Who was Alan Turing?

Alan TuringBorn on 23 June 1912, his parents lived in India and Alan and his brother lived with friends and relatives in England. He studied Mathematics at Cambridge University and taught there within the field of Quantum Mathematics. He developed the theory that automatic computation cannot solve all mathematical problems. This concept known as the Turing Machine is considered the basis for the modern theory of computation.

In 1938 he began to work secretly for the British cryptanalytic department , the Government Code and Cypher school. On the outbreak of the war he began work at the headquarters at Bletchley Park.

He played a vital role in deciphering the messages encrypted by the German Enigma Machine which provided vital intelligence for the Allies.

After the war he began work on developing a machine that would logically process information. His team missed out on being the first to design a digital computer, even though his machine was capable of higher computation speeds than others.

In 1949 he went to Manchester University where he directed the computing laboratory and developed a body of work that helped to form the basis for the field of artificial intelligence.

In 1952 he was arrested and tried for homosexuality. To avoid prison he accepted injections of Oestrogen for a year, intended to neutralise his libido. Considered a security risk his security clearance was withdrawn. He committed suicide on 7th June 1954.


If you would like to find out more about Turing’s life, there is an excellent biography by Hodges called “Alan Turing: The Enigma”.