Alan Turing

British Mathematician and Cryptographer

Background information

Alan Turing was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. During the second world war, turning worked for the government code and cypher school. Alan Turing was born on June 23, 1912, in London. In his seminal 1936 paper, he proved that there cannot exist any universal algorithmic method of determining truth in mathematics, and that mathematics will always contain undecidable propositions. That paper also introduced the "Turing machine." His papers on the subject are widely acknowledged as the foundation of research in artificial intelligence.


Alan Turings History with computers

In 1945 Turing joined the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London, his brief to design and develop an electronic stored-program digital computer for scientific work. (Artificial Intelligence was not far from Turing's thoughts: he described himself as 'building a brain' and remarked in a letter that he was 'more interested in the possibility of producing models of the action of the brain than in the practical applications to computing'.) John Womersley, Turing's immediate superior at NPL, christened Turing's proposed machine the Automatic Computing Engine, or ACE, in homage to Babbage's Difference Engine and Analytical Engine.