The Unknown Turing

 2015-03-31                -Vandana Rao

Most of us love programming and developing amazing software products. Have we ever delved into the history of computer science to understand how the concepts of 'algorithms' and 'computation' came into being? Lets read about one such person who was highly influential in the development of computer science.

Alan Turing was a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He is widely regarded as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence (AI). It's a well-known fact that Alan Turing was the principal man responsible for breaking the Enigma Code used by Germans.

Following are some of the mind-boggling facts about Alan Turing:

1. Turing's birth date is recorded on a blue plaque on the outside of the house of his birth. He was born in Maida Vale, London on June 23, 1912.

2. His father worked for Indian Civil Service (ICS).

3. Turing not only grasped Einstein's work but also extrapolated Einstein's questioning of Newton's laws of motion from a text in which this was never made explicit.

4. In 1950, Turing proposed an experiment to find out if a machine was "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. The test is now called the Turing test.

5. His bicycle had a faulty chain which came off at regular intervals. Instead of mending it, Alan used to count his pedal strokes and get off the bicycle to adjust the chain before it was due to come off.

6. Turing showed no sign of despondency before his death and several people including Turing's mother believed that he consumed cyanide by accident and that it was not a case of suicide.

7. On 23 June 2001, a statue of Alan Turing was unveiled in Sackville Park, Manchester. The statue depicts Turing holding an apple - a symbol which represents forbidden love, the object that inspired Newton's theory of gravitation and the assumed means by which Turing killed himself.

These are some of the intriguing facts about this ordinary person who accomplished extraordinary feat.

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