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Turing Alan: biography, photo, work. Contribution to Informatics

Alan Mathison Turing is a world-famous brilliant scientist, cracker of codes, pioneer of computer science, a man with an amazing destiny, who had a significant influence on the development of computer technologies.

Alan Turing: brief biography

Alan Mathison Turing was born in London on June 23, 1912. His father, Julius Turing, was a colonial official who carried civil service in India. There he met and married with Alan's mother - Ethel Sarah. Parents resided permanently in India, and children (Alan and John, his older brother) were trained in private homes in England, where they received strict upbringing.

His ability to exact sciences, Alan showed somehow during a picnic. In order to earn his father's approval, the boy managed to find wild honey by means of simple deductions. For this he traced the lines along which the bees flew, and the direction of their flights. Then, mentally extending these lines, I found their point of intersection, where I found a hollow with honey.

Excellent abilities to the exact sciences of Alan appeared during his studies at the prestigious School of Schernborough. In 1931, as a mathematical scholarship student, the young man continued his studies at the Royal College of Cambridge University. Upon his graduation, he defended his thesis on the central limit probability theorem, which he rediscovered, not realizing the existence of a similar previous work. In the educational institution Alan was in the Scientific Society of the College, his thesis was awarded a special award. This gave the young man the opportunity to receive a good scholarship and continue self-realization in the field of exact sciences.

Turing machine

In 1935, scientist Alan Turing first applied his abilities in the field of mathematical logic and began to conduct studies that showed significant results in a year. He introduced the notion of a computable function that can be implemented on a so-called Turing machine. The design of this device had all the basic properties of modern models (step by step action, memory, program control) and was the prototype of digital computers invented after a decade. In 1936, Alan Turing, a mathematician, moved to America and became a curator at Princeton University, in 1938 he received a Ph.D. degree and returned to Cambridge, refusing to accept the offer of mathematician John von Neumann to stay in this educational institution as an assistant.

British operation "Ultra"

During the same period, Britain announced the launch of the Ultra operation, the purpose of which was to listen to the conversations of German pilots and decipher them. This issue was handled by the London-based department of the Government School of Codes and Ciphers (the Chief Intelligence Unit of British Intelligence), which, due to the threat of a fascist attack, was rushed to Bletchley Park in the center of England.

Today there is a museum of encoders and computers. It was to this secret place that reconnaissance data intercepted by receiving stations was received daily; The number of encoded messages was measured in thousands of units. For each incoming text were recorded: radio frequency, date, time of interception and preamble. The latter contained the network identifier, the call sign of the receiving station and the sender, and the time of sending the messages.

Winston Churchill - British Prime Minister - called Bletchy Park his chicken, carrying golden eggs. The project manager was Alistair Denniston, a veteran of military intelligence. In the staff of cryptanalysts, he did not recruit personnel scouts, but specialists of the broadest range: mathematicians, linguists, chess players, Egyptologists, champions in solving crossword puzzles. In a diverse company, the talented mathematician Alan Turing also got involved.

Turing vs. Enigma

Turing's department was entrusted with a specific task: working with encrypted texts created by the Enigma device - a machine patented in Holland in 1917 and originally intended to protect banking operations. It was these models that the Wehrmacht actively used to transmit radiograms in operations conducted by the navy and aviation. The Enigma ciphers were the strongest on the planet by the beginning of the Second World War. It was even believed that hacking them is almost impossible.

To understand the coded text, it was necessary to acquire the same machine, know its initial settings, close the letters in the communication panel in a certain way, and start all this in the opposite direction. It should be borne in mind that the principles of coding and keys changed once a day. The Wehrmacht cipherers tried to complicate the cryptanalysis as much as possible with the transmission procedures: the message length did not exceed 250 characters, and they were transmitted in groups of 3-5 letters.

The hard work of the ciphers under Turing's leadership was crowned with success: a device was created capable of deciphering the signals of the Enigma. In addition to all the mathematical tricks, the same stereotyped phrases used by the Germans, as well as any repetitive texts, were used as prompts. If the clues were not enough, then the enemy was provoked on them. For example, demonstratively mined a certain section of the sea, and then listened to the statements of the Germans on this issue.

The success of Alan Turing

As a result of painstaking work in 1940, Alan Turing's cryptanalytical machine "Bomba" was created, which is a huge cabinet (weight - one ton, front panel - 2 x 3 meters, 36 groups of rotors on it). The use of this device required special skills and directly depended on the qualifications of the personnel serving it. In Bletchley Park with time more than two hundred such machines were installed, which allowed to decipher about 2-3 thousand messages a day.

Turing Alan was delighted with his work and the results achieved. It only irritated the local authorities and cut down budgets. Fortunately, after a series of office angry notes, the project was taken under control by Winston Churchill, raising his funding. "Enigma" and other cryptographic German machines were hacked, the Allies got the opportunity to be aware of the uninterrupted flow of valuable intelligence.

The Germans for more than a year had no idea about the existence of the "Bomb", and after discovering a leak of information, made great efforts to maximize the complexity of the ciphers.

However, Turing did not frighten him: he easily coped with a new problem, and within a month and a half the British received access to enemy information.

Absolute reliability of the cipher during the war years did not cause any doubt among the Germans, who until the end sought the reasons for the leakage of valuable information anywhere, but not in the Enigma. The disclosure of the Enigma code radically changed the course of the Second World War. Valuable information helped not only to protect the British Isles, but also to conduct appropriate preparations for large-scale operations on the continent planned by the German side. The success of the British cryptographers became an important contribution to the victory over Nazism, and directly Turing Alan in 1946 was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

The freaks of computer genius

Contemporaries described Turing as a slightly eccentric person, not too charming, rather gallbladder and infinitely industrious.

  • Being allergic, Turing Alan preferred antihistamines to his gas mask. In it, he went to offices during the flowering period of plants. Probably, such strangeness was explained by unwillingness to fall under the influence of side effects of the drug, namely - drowsiness.
  • Another feature was the mathematician in relation to his bicycle, which at certain intervals flew chain. Turing Alan, not wanting to fix it, counted the speed of the pedals, at the right time, got off the bicycle and adjusted the chain with his hands.
  • His own mug in Bletchley Park, a talented scientist fastened to the battery chain, so that it was not stolen.
  • While living in Cambridge, Alan never set the clock in accordance with the signals of the exact time, he calculated it mentally, fixing the location of a particular star.
  • Once Alan, learning about the fall of the course of the English foot, remelted his coins and buried the received silver ingot somewhere in the park, after which he completely forgot the place of the hiding place.
  • Turing was a good athlete. Feeling the need for charging, he ran a long distance, determined for himself that he had succeeded in this sport. Then, in record time, he won the 3- and 10-mile distance of his club, and in 1947 he took the fifth place in the marathon race.

Alan Turing's eccentricities, whose merits are simply invaluable for Britain, were not aroused by anyone. Many colleagues recall the excitement and enthusiasm with which the genius of computer science took up any idea that interested him. Turing looked with great respect, as he stood out for his originality of thinking and his own intellect. A talented mathematician, having all the makings of a qualified teacher, knew how to solve and explain any, even the most unusual, problem.

Alan Turing: Contribution to Computer Science

In 1945, Alan refused to work as a lecturer at the University of Cambridge and, on the recommendation of M. Newman, moved to the National Physical Laboratory, where at that time a group was formed to design and create an ACE-computer. For 3 years (from 1945 to 1948) - the period of existence of the group - Turing made the first sketches and introduced several important proposals for its design.

The report on the ACE scientist was submitted to the NFL Executive Committee on March 19, 1946. The accompanying note attached to it said that the work is based on the EDVAG project. However, the project had a large number of valuable ideas that belonged directly to the English mathematician.

The software for the first computer was also written by Alan Turing. Informatics without the painstaking efforts of this talented scientist might not have reached such a level as today. At the same time, the first chess program was written.

In September 1948, Alan Turing, whose biography was connected with mathematics all his life, was transferred to work at Manchester University. Nominally, he took the post of deputy director of the laboratory of computers, in fact, was listed in the mathematical department of M. Newman and was responsible for programming.

Evil joke of fate

An English mathematician who continued his cooperation with intelligence after the war was brought to a new task: the deciphering of Soviet codes. At that moment, fate played a cruel joke with Turing. Once his house was robbed. The note left by the thief was a warning about the extreme undesirability of contacting the police, but Alan Turing, immediately indignant, phoned the police station. In the course of the investigation it turned out that the looter was one of Alan's lover's friends. In the process of giving evidence, Turing had to admit to her unconventional orientation that in those years in England was criminally punishable.

The loud trial of a famous scientist lasted a long time. He was offered either a two-year prison sentence, or hormonal therapy, which relieves sexual desire.

Alan Turing (photos of recent years above) chose the second. As a result of treatment with the most powerful drugs, which lasted throughout the year, Turing developed impotence, as well as gynecomastia (breast augmentation). Criminally persecuted Alan was suspended from secret work. In addition, the British had fears that homosexuals could be recruited by Soviet spies. The scientist was not accused of espionage, but was forbidden to discuss his work in Bletchley Park.

Apple Alan Turing

The story of Alan Turing is sad to the core: a mathematical genius was fired from the service and forbidden to teach. His reputation was completely ruined. At 41, the young man was thrown out of the habitual rhythm of life, left without a favorite work, with broken psyche and ruined health. In 1954, Alan Turing, whose biography even today worries the minds of many people, was found dead in his own house, and on the bedside table near the bed lay a bitten apple. As it turned out later, it was filled with cyanide. So Alan Turing recreated the scene from his favorite fairy tale "Snow White" in 1937. According to some reports, this is why the fruit became the emblem of the world famous computer company Apple. In addition, the apple is still a biblical symbol of the knowledge of sin.

The official version of the death of a talented mathematician is suicide. Alan's mother believed that the poisoning happened by chance, because Alan always inadvertently worked with chemicals. There is a version that Turing deliberately chose this way of leaving to give the mother the opportunity to not believe in suicide.

Rehabilitation of the English mathematician

The great mathematician was rehabilitated posthumously. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly apologized for the persecution that infuriated the computer science genius. In 2013, Turing was formally pardoned for allegations of obscenity by Queen Elizabeth II.

Alan Turing's work consisted not only in the development of information technologies: at the end of his life the scientist devoted himself to the problems of biology, namely, he began to develop a chemical theory of morphogenesis, which gave full scope for combining the abilities of an exact mathematician and gifted, full original ideas of the philosopher. The first sketches of this theory are described in the preliminary report of 1952 and the report that appeared after the death of the scientist.

The most prestigious award in the field of computer science is the "Turing Award". It is awarded annually by the Association of Computing Machinery. Sponsored by this award, which currently amounts to $ 250,000, by Google and Intel. The first such an important award in 1966 was awarded to Alan Perlis for the creation of compilers.

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