Google today celebrates the 100th birthday of wartime code-breaker and pioneer of computer science Alan Mathison Turing with a doodle.
Alan Turing was born on 23 June,1912,in London. His father was in the Indian Civil Service and Turing’s parents lived in India until his father’s retirement in 1926. Turing studied mathematics at Cambridge University,and subsequently taught there,working in the world of quantum mechanics. It was at Cambridge that he developed the proof which states that automatic computation cannot solve all mathematical problems. This concept,also known as the Turing machine,is considered the basis for the modern theory of computation.
In 1936,Turing went to Princeton University in America and returned to England in 1938. He began to work secretly part-time for the British cryptanalytic department. After the outbreak of war,he played a vital role in deciphering the messages encrypted by the German Enigma machine,which provided vital intelligence for the Allies. He took the lead in a team that designed a machine known as a bombe that successfully decoded German messages. He became a well-known and rather eccentric figure at Bletchley.
After the war,Turing turned his thoughts to the development of a machine that would logically process information. 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,Turing was arrested and tried for homosexuality,then a criminal offence. To avoid prison,he accepted injections of oestrogen for a year. In that era,homosexuals were considered a security risk as they were open to blackmail. Turing’s security clearance was withdrawn,meaning he could no longer work in government projects.
He committed suicide on 7 June,1954.