Monday, October 31, 2011

Alan Mathison Turing

June 23 1912 - June 7 1954
Born London, England. Died Wilmslow, England.

Alan Mathison Turing work was fundamental in the theoretical foundations of computer science.

Turing studied at King's College London and was a graduate student at Princeton University from 1936 to 1938. While at Princeton Turing published "On Computable Numbers", a paper in which he conceived an abstract machine, now called a Turing machine, which moved from one state to another using a precise set of rules.

Turing returned to England in 1938 and during World War II, he worked in the British Foreign Office. Here he played a leading role in efforts to break enemy codes.

In 1945 he joined the National Physical Laboratory in London and worked on the design and construction of a large computer, named Automatic Computing Engine (ACE).

In 1949 Turing became deputy director of the Computing Laboratory at Manchester where the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine, the worlds largest memory computer, was being built.

He also worked on theories of artificial intelligence, and on the application of mathematical theory to biological forms. In 1952 he published the first part of his theoretical study of morphogenesis, the development of pattern and form in living organisms.

Turing was arrested for violation of British homosexuality statutes in 1952. He died of potassium cyanide poisoning while conducting electrolysis experiments. An inquest concluded that it was self-administered but it is now thought by some to have been an accident.

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