Alan Turing

by Kari Webb


Born: June 23, 1912

Died: June 7, 1954

Books: Computing Machinery and Intelligence.

Education: Princeton University (1936–1938), Kings College, Cambridge(1931–1934), Sherborne School, St. Michael's School, Institue for Advanced Study, University of Cambridge

Parents: Ethel Sara Stoney, Julius Mathison Turing.

Siblings: John Turing

Alan Turing - My Favourite Scientist

The Turing Test

One of his greatest accomplishes was in the creation of the Turing test, which was the initial attempt at determining if computers could actually 'think.' As a test, the Turing test begins to call into question what the difference is between human intelligence and artificial intelligence (or AI).

The test is a fairly simple construction. In one room is a participant (call them X) and in two other rooms are a person (Y) and a computer. The participant communicates with the person and the computer via email (for example). The goal of X is to determine which is the computer and which is the human. The goal of Y is to convince X that he/she is human; however, the goal of the computer is to also convince that IT is the human. If the computer can sucessfully decieve, then it displays intelligence (according to Turing).

The Turing Test

The Turing Machine

What is a Turing Machine?

A Turing machine is the original idealized model of a computer, invented by Alan Turing in 1936.

Turing machines are equivalent to modern electronic computers at a certain theoretical level, but differ in many details.

A Turing machine consists of a line of cells known as the "tape", together with a single active cell, known as the "head". The cells on the tape can have a certain set of possible colors, and the head can be in a certain set of possible states.

Any particular Turing machine is defined by a rule which specifies what the head should do at each step. The rule looks at the state of the head, and the color of the cell that the head is on. Then it specifies what the new state of the head should be, what color the head should "write" onto the tape, and whether the head should move left or right.

The prize Turing machine has two possible states of its head, and three possible colors on its tape.

A Turing Machine - Overview