Sunday, June 24, 2012

Father of computing

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing.

It's ironic if you don't recognize his name because you are reading my words in a way he made possible.

I'll let you read more about his life here and here, though I'll share highlights:

* He was instrumental in breaking Germany's Enigma code during World War II and automating the decryption process.

* He formalized the basics of the computer algorithm, the foundation of all computers.

* He proposed the Turing Test as a way of determining if a computer is intelligent: If a human couldn't tell if he was conversing with a computer or another human, then the computer could think for itself.

* He was gay, and when he admitted such to authorities he was charged with gross indecency. His life was ruined. But, according to Jack Copeland of Oxford University, Turing's death from cyanide poisoning was accidental, not suicide. He was only 42.

Google commemorated Turing's centennial yesterday. It's opening page doodle was a Turing machine which supposedly featured six puzzles. I didn't try them.

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