CELEBRATING ALAN TURING YEAR 2012

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In 1936, computers did not exist. But Turing defined the concept of the “universal  machine,” with the power to run any program.in so doing he invented the concept of the computer. Alan Mathison Turing who was born on 23 June 1912 was a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist .He was instrumental in the providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and “computation” with the Turing machine. Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He played a vital role during the time of World war || by working in British code breaking centres. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine*.

In 1945 Turing went on to design a vast stored-program electronic computer called the Automatic Computing Engine—or ACE. The name was an homage to 19th century computing pioneer Charles Babbage, who proposed giant mechanical calculating ‘engines’. Turing’s sophisticated ACE design found commercial success in the English Electric Company’s DEUCE, one of the earliest electronic computers to go on sale. The DEUCE became a foundation stone of the fledgling British computer industry, and, together with a small handful of other mark 1 computers—all in one way or another profoundly influenced by Turing’s ideas—the DEUCE propelled the nation into the Computer Age. Turing also contributed to the triumph at Manchester, where Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams built the first computer with memory stored programs, which can be considered as a universal Turing machine realised in electronic hardware. Their ‘Baby’, the world’s first modern computer, came to life in June 1948, the same year that Turing joined the Computing Machine Laboratory at Manchester. He remained at The University of Manchester for the rest of his life.

At the turn of the millennium, 45 years after his death, Time magazine listed him among the twentieth century’s 100 greatest minds, alongside the Wright brothers, Albert Einstein, DNA busters Crick and Watson, and the discoverer of penicillin, Alexander Fleming. Turing’s achievements during his short lifetime were legion. Best known as the genius who broke Germany’s most secret codes during the war of 1939-45, Turing was also father of the modern computer. Today, all who click to open are familiar with the impact of his ideas. To him we owe the brilliant innovation of storing applications, and the other programs necessary for computers to do our bidding, inside the computer’s memory, ready to be opened when we wish. At a time when the term ‘computer’ meant nothing more than a human clerk who sat at a desk doing calculations with paper and pencil, Turing envisaged a ‘universal computing machine’, whose function could effortlessly be transformed from word processor to desk calculator to chess opponent—or anything else that we have the skill to pin down in the form of a program. Like many great ideas, this one now seems as obvious as the wheel and the arch, but with this single invention, the stored program universal computer, Turing changed the world.

In 2012 the centenary of Alan Turing’s birthday is being greeted by an extra ordinary response, not only in mathematical and scientific circles but in a much wider public arena. Alan Turing Centenary Conference were conducted in Manchester, UK on 2012 in remembrance of him.it marks the awareness that he was one of the 20th century’s seminal figures ,whose brief life is better appreciate in the 21st century than in his own. His modern minded openness as a gay man, one who suffered prosecution and punishment in 1952, has also attracted great attention. Alan Turing is a hero of the theory and practice of computer science, adding his roles in the human dramas of war and sexuality; he has achieved a special place in history.

 

*An Enigma machine is any of a family of related electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages.

 

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