Alan Turing
Name: Alan Turing
Occupation: Mathematician
Gender: Male
Birth Day: June 23, 1912
Death Date: Jun 7, 1954 (age 41)
Age: Aged 41
Birth Place: London, England
Zodiac Sign: Cancer

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Alan Turing

Alan Turing was born on June 23, 1912 in London, England (41 years old). Alan Turing is a Mathematician, zodiac sign: Cancer. Nationality: England. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.


His homosexuality was considered criminal in 1952, and stunted his research on artificial intelligence.

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Does Alan Turing Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Alan Turing died on Jun 7, 1954 (age 41).


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Before Fame

He rode his bike sixty miles overnight, unaccompanied, so he could make it to his first day of class as a thirteen year old.


Biography Timeline


Julius's work with the ICS brought the family to British India, where his grandfather had been a general in the Bengal Army. However, both Julius and Ethel wanted their children to be brought up in Britain, so they moved to Maida Vale, London, where Alan Turing was born on 23 June 1912, as recorded by a blue plaque on the outside of the house of his birth, later the Colonnade Hotel. Turing had an elder brother, John (the father of Sir John Dermot Turing, 12th Baronet of the Turing baronets).


Between January 1922 and 1926, Turing was educated at Hazelhurst Preparatory School, an independent school in the village of Frant in Sussex (now East Sussex). In 1926, at the age of 13, he went on to Sherborne School, a boarding independent school in the market town of Sherborne in Dorset, where he boarded at Westcott House. The first day of term coincided with the 1926 General Strike, in Britain, but Turing was so determined to attend, that he rode his bicycle unaccompanied 60 miles (97 km) from Southampton to Sherborne, stopping overnight at an inn.


Very early in life, Turing showed signs of the genius that he was later to display prominently. His parents purchased a house in Guildford in 1927, and Turing lived there during school holidays. The location is also marked with a blue plaque.

Turing's natural inclination towards mathematics and science did not earn him respect from some of the teachers at Sherborne, whose definition of education placed more emphasis on the classics. His headmaster wrote to his parents: "I hope he will not fall between two stools. If he is to stay at public school, he must aim at becoming educated. If he is to be solely a Scientific Specialist, he is wasting his time at a public school". Despite this, Turing continued to show remarkable ability in the studies he loved, solving advanced problems in 1927 without having studied even elementary calculus. In 1928, aged 16, Turing encountered Albert Einstein's work; not only did he grasp it, but it is possible that he managed to deduce Einstein's questioning of Newton's laws of motion from a text in which this was never made explicit.


At Sherborne, Turing formed a significant friendship with fellow pupil Christopher Collan Morcom (13 July 1911 – 13 February 1930), who has been described as Turing's "first love". Their relationship provided inspiration in Turing's future endeavours, but it was cut short by Morcom's death, in February 1930, from complications of bovine tuberculosis, contracted after drinking infected cow's milk some years previously.


After Sherborne, Turing studied as an undergraduate from 1931 to 1934 at King's College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first-class honours in mathematics. In 1935, at the age of 22, he was elected a Fellow of King's College on the strength of a dissertation in which he proved the central limit theorem. Unknown to the committee, the theorem had already been proven, in 1922, by Jarl Waldemar Lindeberg. A blue plaque at the college was unveiled on the centenary of his birth on 23 June 2012 and is now installed at the college's Keynes Building on King's Parade.


In 1936, Turing published his paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem". It was published in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society journal in two parts, the first on 30 November and the second on 23 December. In this paper, Turing reformulated Kurt Gödel's 1931 results on the limits of proof and computation, replacing Gödel's universal arithmetic-based formal language with the formal and simple hypothetical devices that became known as Turing machines. The Entscheidungsproblem (decision problem) was originally posed by German mathematician David Hilbert in 1928. Turing proved that his "universal computing machine" would be capable of performing any conceivable mathematical computation if it were representable as an algorithm. He went on to prove that there was no solution to the decision problem by first showing that the halting problem for Turing machines is undecidable: it is not possible to decide algorithmically whether a Turing machine will ever halt. This paper has been called "easily the most influential math paper in history".

From September 1936 to July 1938, Turing spent most of his time studying under Church at Princeton University, in the second year as a Jane Eliza Procter Visiting Fellow. In addition to his purely mathematical work, he studied cryptology and also built three of four stages of an electro-mechanical binary multiplier. In June 1938, he obtained his PhD from the Department of Mathematics at Princeton; his dissertation, Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals, introduced the concept of ordinal logic and the notion of relative computing, in which Turing machines are augmented with so-called oracles, allowing the study of problems that cannot be solved by Turing machines. John von Neumann wanted to hire him as his postdoctoral assistant, but he went back to the United Kingdom.


From September 1938, Turing worked part-time with the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), the British codebreaking organisation. He concentrated on cryptanalysis of the Enigma cipher machine used by Nazi Germany, together with Dilly Knox, a senior GC&CS codebreaker. Soon after the July 1939 meeting near Warsaw at which the Polish Cipher Bureau gave the British and French details of the wiring of Enigma machine's rotors and their method of decrypting Enigma machine's messages, Turing and Knox developed a broader solution. The Polish method relied on an insecure indicator procedure that the Germans were likely to change, which they in fact did in May 1940. Turing's approach was more general, using crib-based decryption for which he produced the functional specification of the bombe (an improvement on the Polish Bomba).


When Turing returned to Cambridge, he attended lectures given in 1939 by Ludwig Wittgenstein about the foundations of mathematics. The lectures have been reconstructed verbatim, including interjections from Turing and other students, from students' notes. Turing and Wittgenstein argued and disagreed, with Turing defending formalism and Wittgenstein propounding his view that mathematics does not discover any absolute truths, but rather invents them.

On 4 September 1939, the day after the UK declared war on Germany, Turing reported to Bletchley Park, the wartime station of GC&CS. Specifying the bombe was the first of five major cryptanalytical advances that Turing made during the war. The others were: deducing the indicator procedure used by the German navy; developing a statistical procedure dubbed Banburismus for making much more efficient use of the bombes; developing a procedure dubbed Turingery for working out the cam settings of the wheels of the Lorenz SZ 40/42 (Tunny) cipher machine and, towards the end of the war, the development of a portable secure voice scrambler at Hanslope Park that was codenamed Delilah.

Turing decided to tackle the particularly difficult problem of German naval Enigma "because no one else was doing anything about it and I could have it to myself". In December 1939, Turing solved the essential part of the naval indicator system, which was more complex than the indicator systems used by the other services.


The bombe detected when a contradiction had occurred and ruled out that setting, moving on to the next. Most of the possible settings would cause contradictions and be discarded, leaving only a few to be investigated in detail. A contradiction would occur when an enciphered letter would be turned back into the same plaintext letter, which was impossible with the Enigma. The first bombe was installed on 18 March 1940.


By late 1941, Turing and his fellow cryptanalysts Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander and Stuart Milner-Barry were frustrated. Building on the work of the Poles, they had set up a good working system for decrypting Enigma signals, but their limited staff and bombes meant they could not translate all the signals. In the summer, they had considerable success, and shipping losses had fallen to under 100,000 tons a month; however, they badly needed more resources to keep abreast of German adjustments. They had tried to get more people and fund more bombes through the proper channels, but had failed.

In 1941, Turing proposed marriage to Hut 8 colleague Joan Clarke, a fellow mathematician and cryptanalyst, but their engagement was short-lived. After admitting his homosexuality to his fiancée, who was reportedly "unfazed" by the revelation, Turing decided that he could not go through with the marriage.


Turing travelled to the United States in November 1942 and worked with US Navy cryptanalysts on the naval Enigma and bombe construction in Washington; he also visited their Computing Machine Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

In July 1942, Turing devised a technique termed Turingery (or jokingly Turingismus) for use against the Lorenz cipher messages produced by the Germans' new Geheimschreiber (secret writer) machine. This was a teleprinter rotor cipher attachment codenamed Tunny at Bletchley Park. Turingery was a method of wheel-breaking, i.e., a procedure for working out the cam settings of Tunny's wheels. He also introduced the Tunny team to Tommy Flowers who, under the guidance of Max Newman, went on to build the Colossus computer, the world's first programmable digital electronic computer, which replaced a simpler prior machine (the Heath Robinson), and whose superior speed allowed the statistical decryption techniques to be applied usefully to the messages. Some have mistakenly said that Turing was a key figure in the design of the Colossus computer. Turingery and the statistical approach of Banburismus undoubtedly fed into the thinking about cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher, but he was not directly involved in the Colossus development.


During this trip, he also assisted at Bell Labs with the development of secure speech devices. He returned to Bletchley Park in March 1943. During his absence, Hugh Alexander had officially assumed the position of head of Hut 8, although Alexander had been de facto head for some time (Turing having little interest in the day-to-day running of the section). Turing became a general consultant for cryptanalysis at Bletchley Park.


Between 1945 and 1947, Turing lived in Hampton, London, while he worked on the design of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). He presented a paper on 19 February 1946, which was the first detailed design of a stored-program computer. Von Neumann's incomplete First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC had predated Turing's paper, but it was much less detailed and, according to John R. Womersley, Superintendent of the NPL Mathematics Division, it "contains a number of ideas which are Dr. Turing's own". Although ACE was a feasible design, the secrecy surrounding the wartime work at Bletchley Park led to delays in starting the project and he became disillusioned. In late 1947 he returned to Cambridge for a sabbatical year during which he produced a seminal work on Intelligent Machinery that was not published in his lifetime. While he was at Cambridge, the Pilot ACE was being built in his absence. It executed its first program on 10 May 1950, and a number of later computers around the world owe much to it, including the English Electric DEUCE and the American Bendix G-15. The full version of Turing's ACE was not built until after his death.


In 1946, Turing was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by King George VI for his wartime services, but his work remained secret for many years.

Turing's conviction led to the removal of his security clearance and barred him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British signals intelligence agency that had evolved from GC&CS in 1946, though he kept his academic job. He was denied entry into the United States after his conviction in 1952, but was free to visit other European countries. Turing was never accused of espionage but, in common with all who had worked at Bletchley Park, he was prevented by the Official Secrets Act from discussing his war work.

Turing was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1946. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1951.


According to the memoirs of the German computer pioneer Heinz Billing from the Max Planck Institute for Physics, published by Genscher, Düsseldorf, there was a meeting between Turing and Konrad Zuse. It took place in Göttingen in 1947. The interrogation had the form of a colloquium. Participants were Womersley, Turing, Porter from England and a few German researchers like Zuse, Walther, and Billing (for more details see Herbert Bruderer, Konrad Zuse und die Schweiz).


In 1948, Turing was appointed reader in the Mathematics Department at the Victoria University of Manchester. A year later, he became Deputy Director of the Computing Machine Laboratory, where he worked on software for one of the earliest stored-program computers—the Manchester Mark 1. Turing wrote the first version of the Programmer's Manual for this machine, and was recruited by Ferranti as a consultant in the development of their commercialised machine, the Ferranti Mark 1. He continued to be paid consultancy fees by Ferranti until his death. During this time, he continued to do more abstract work in mathematics, and in "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (Mind, October 1950), Turing addressed the problem of artificial intelligence, and proposed an experiment that became known as the Turing test, an attempt to define a standard for a machine to be called "intelligent". The idea was that a computer could be said to "think" if a human interrogator could not tell it apart, through conversation, from a human being. In the paper, Turing suggested that rather than building a program to simulate the adult mind, it would be better to produce a simpler one to simulate a child's mind and then to subject it to a course of education. A reversed form of the Turing test is widely used on the Internet; the CAPTCHA test is intended to determine whether the user is a human or a computer.

In 1948 Turing, working with his former undergraduate colleague, D.G. Champernowne, began writing a chess program for a computer that did not yet exist. By 1950, the program was completed and dubbed the Turochamp. In 1952, he tried to implement it on a Ferranti Mark 1, but lacking enough power, the computer was unable to execute the program. Instead, Turing "ran" the program by flipping through the pages of the algorithm and carrying out its instructions on a chessboard, taking about half an hour per move. The game was recorded. According to Garry Kasparov, Turing's program "played a recognizable game of chess." The program lost to Turing's colleague Alick Glennie, although it is said that it won a game against Champernowne's wife, Isabel.


When Turing was 39 years old in 1951, he turned to mathematical biology, finally publishing his masterpiece "The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis" in January 1952. He was interested in morphogenesis, the development of patterns and shapes in biological organisms. He suggested that a system of chemicals reacting with each other and diffusing across space, termed a reaction-diffusion system, could account for "the main phenomena of morphogenesis". He used systems of partial differential equations to model catalytic chemical reactions. For example, if a catalyst A is required for a certain chemical reaction to take place, and if the reaction produced more of the catalyst A, then we say that the reaction is autocatalytic, and there is positive feedback that can be modelled by nonlinear differential equations. Turing discovered that patterns could be created if the chemical reaction not only produced catalyst A, but also produced an inhibitor B that slowed down the production of A. If A and B then diffused through the container at different rates, then you could have some regions where A dominated and some where B did. To calculate the extent of this, Turing would have needed a powerful computer, but these were not so freely available in 1951, so he had to use linear approximations to solve the equations by hand. These calculations gave the right qualitative results, and produced, for example, a uniform mixture that oddly enough had regularly spaced fixed red spots. The Russian biochemist Boris Belousov had performed experiments with similar results, but could not get his papers published because of the contemporary prejudice that any such thing violated the second law of thermodynamics. Belousov was not aware of Turing's paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.


In January 1952, Turing was 39 when he started a relationship with Arnold Murray, a 19-year-old unemployed man. Just before Christmas, Turing was walking along Manchester's Oxford Road when he met Murray just outside the Regal Cinema and invited him to lunch. On 23 January, Turing's house was burgled. Murray told Turing that he and the burglar were acquainted, and Turing reported the crime to the police. During the investigation, he acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray. Homosexual acts were criminal offences in the United Kingdom at that time, and both men were charged with "gross indecency" under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. Initial committal proceedings for the trial were held on 27 February during which Turing's solicitor "reserved his defence", i.e., did not argue or provide evidence against the allegations.

Turing was later convinced by the advice of his brother and his own solicitor, and he entered a plea of guilty. The case, Regina v. Turing and Murray, was brought to trial on 31 March 1952. Turing was convicted and given a choice between imprisonment and probation. His probation would be conditional on his agreement to undergo hormonal physical changes designed to reduce libido. He accepted the option of injections of what was then called stilboestrol (now known as diethylstilbestrol or DES), a synthetic oestrogen; this feminization of his body was continued for the course of one year. The treatment rendered Turing impotent and caused breast tissue to form, fulfilling in the literal sense Turing's prediction that "no doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I've not found out". Murray was given a conditional discharge.


On 8 June 1954, Turing's housekeeper found him dead at the age of 41; he had died the previous day. Cyanide poisoning was established as the cause of death. When his body was discovered, an apple lay half-eaten beside his bed, and although the apple was not tested for cyanide, it was speculated that this was the means by which Turing had consumed a fatal dose. An inquest determined that he had committed suicide. Andrew Hodges and another biographer, David Leavitt, have both speculated that Turing was re-enacting a scene from the Walt Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), his favourite fairy tale. Both men noted that (in Leavitt's words) he took "an especially keen pleasure in the scene where the Wicked Queen immerses her apple in the poisonous brew". Turing's remains were cremated at Woking Crematorium on 12 June 1954, and his ashes were scattered in the gardens of the crematorium, just as his father's had been.


Turing has been honoured in various ways in Manchester, the city where he worked towards the end of his life. In 1994, a stretch of the A6010 road (the Manchester city intermediate ring road) was named "Alan Turing Way". A bridge carrying this road was widened, and carries the name Alan Turing Bridge. A statue of Turing was unveiled in Manchester on 23 June 2001 in Sackville Park, between the University of Manchester building on Whitworth Street and Canal Street. The memorial statue depicts the "father of computer science" sitting on a bench at a central position in the park. Turing is shown holding an apple. The cast bronze bench carries in relief the text 'Alan Mathison Turing 1912–1954', and the motto 'Founder of Computer Science' as it could appear if encoded by an Enigma machine: 'IEKYF ROMSI ADXUO KVKZC GUBJ'. However, the meaning of the coded message is disputed, as the 'u' in 'computer' matches up with the 'u' in 'ADXUO'. As a letter encoded by an enigma machine cannot appear as itself, the actual message behind the code is uncertain.


In 1999, Time magazine named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century and stated, "The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine."


In August 2009, British programmer John Graham-Cumming started a petition urging the British government to apologise for Turing's prosecution as a homosexual. The petition received more than 30,000 signatures. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, acknowledged the petition, releasing a statement on 10 September 2009 apologising and describing the treatment of Turing as "appalling":


In December 2011, William Jones and his Member of Parliament, John Leech, created an e-petition requesting that the British government pardon Turing for his conviction of "gross indecency":


Turing's father's civil service commission was still active and during Turing's childhood years, his parents travelled between Hastings in the United Kingdom and India, leaving their two sons to stay with a retired Army couple. At Hastings, Turing stayed at Baston Lodge, Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards-on-Sea, now marked with a blue plaque. The plaque was unveiled on 23 June 2012, the centenary of Turing's birth.

Although published before the structure and role of DNA was understood, Turing's work on morphogenesis remains relevant today and is considered a seminal piece of work in mathematical biology. One of the early applications of Turing's paper was the work by James Murray explaining spots and stripes on the fur of cats, large and small. Further research in the area suggests that Turing's work can partially explain the growth of "feathers, hair follicles, the branching pattern of lungs, and even the left-right asymmetry that puts the heart on the left side of the chest." In 2012, Sheth, et al. found that in mice, removal of Hox genes causes an increase in the number of digits without an increase in the overall size of the limb, suggesting that Hox genes control digit formation by tuning the wavelength of a Turing-type mechanism. Later papers were not available until Collected Works of A. M. Turing was published in 1992.

On 26 July 2012, a bill was introduced in the House of Lords to grant a statutory pardon to Turing for offences under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, of which he was convicted on 31 March 1952. Late in the year in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the physicist Stephen Hawking and 10 other signatories including the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society Sir Paul Nurse, Lady Trumpington (who worked for Turing during the war) and Lord Sharkey (the bill's sponsor) called on Prime Minister David Cameron to act on the pardon request. The government indicated it would support the bill, and it passed its third reading in the Lords in October.


At the bill's second reading in the House of Commons on 29 November 2013, Conservative MP Christopher Chope objected to the bill, delaying its passage. The bill was due to return to the House of Commons on 28 February 2014, but before the bill could be debated in the House of Commons, the government elected to proceed under the royal prerogative of mercy. On 24 December 2013, Queen Elizabeth II signed a pardon for Turing's conviction for "gross indecency", with immediate effect. Announcing the pardon, Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling said Turing deserved to be "remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort" and not for his later criminal conviction. The Queen officially pronounced Turing pardoned in August 2014. The Queen's action is only the fourth royal pardon granted since the conclusion of the Second World War. Pardons are normally granted only when the person is technically innocent, and a request has been made by the family or other interested party; neither condition was met in regard to Turing's conviction.


In September 2016, the government announced its intention to expand this retroactive exoneration to other men convicted of similar historical indecency offences, in what was described as an "Alan Turing law". The Alan Turing law is now an informal term for the law in the United Kingdom, contained in the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which serves as an amnesty law to retroactively pardon men who were cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts. The law applies in England and Wales.


In May 2020 it was reported by Gay Star News that a 12-foot (3.7 m) high steel sculpture, to honour Turing, designed by Sir Antony Gormley, was planned to be installed in King's College, Cambridge. Historic England, however, was quoted as saying that the abstract work of 19 steel slabs "... would be at odds with the existing character of the College. This would result in harm, of a less than substantial nature, to the significance of the listed buildings and landscape, and by extension the conservation area."

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