02 July 2013

Computer Science Majors and Alan Turing

Alan Turing is almost universally recognized as the inventor of computer science. This is based on his conception of both algorithms and computations via his signature invention, the Turing Machine. His influence in the computer sciences field is still widely felt and recognized today. In fact, computer science as it exists today may not have come about at all without the contributions of Alan Turing.

Turing's Mathematical Beginnings

Turing was always exceptionally adept at mathematics. He was known in school for being able to easily solve complex mathematical equations with ease. He was also very interested in science and proved equally talented in that area. He followed Albert Einstein's work closely and even added to it with some of his own highly evolved questioning.

The Turing Machine and Computational Numbers

His association with computer science began in 1936. He was 24-years-old at the time. It was then that he began working on computational numbers. He did so through the publication of an academic paper on the subject and applied computational numbers to the Entscheidungs problem. This paper laid the foundations of the Turing Machine that came later and was famous for being one of the first machines to be able to compute numbers and algorithms. Turing machines could decipher the logic of any algorithm using the computational numbers theory as a foundation.

Two years after delving into computational numbers, Turing obtained his Ph.D. degree from Princeton. His dissertation discussed the theory of relative computing. He went back to Britain and used his work with the Turing machine and his conceptions on relative computing to help the British government break German codes during WWII.

However, code breaking was not his only activity at this time. He also found time to design a machine called the Bombe that allowed the British to break German codes more swiftly. The U.S. Navy also made use of the Bombe for code breaking. This invention proved instrumental in many British and U.S. victories against the Germans during WWII.

Computer Circuit Board: Stockvault

Artificial Intelligence and Alan Turing

After the war, Turing began teaching and doing research at Manchester University. He wrote a paper on the problem of artificial intelligence in 1950. This was long before most people ever conceived of such things. The paper focused on the problem of the development of computers that could think and act on their own at the level of human intelligence. To combat the potential problem of artificial intelligence run amok, Turing proposed that computers be built with intelligence at the level of a small child and then be trained and educated so that the machines did not become dangerous. The famous Turing Test was derived from this paper. It is a test to measure the intelligence of a machine.

Turing's Continuing Influence on Computer Science Today

Though Turing sadly died while still at the peak of his career; his legend lives on. The Turing Award was conceived and named after him in 1966. It is awarded annually to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of the computer science. It is a prestigious award and is the world's way of honoring the man who laid the foundations of the computer-based society we live in today.

Stephen Normandy is a computer junkie who often writes on computer science, laptops, laptop accessories, gadgets and other related subjects; laptop owners may want to view the kensington laptop lock by visiting kensington.com.


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