Alan Mathison Turing (OBE FRS), a London born mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. His work is however beyond these fields. it belongs to fields previously undefined and later named as engineering, scientific discipline, computer science, and artificial life. Thanks to these facts that he’s widely considered as the Father of theoretical computation and computer science.
His Notable Work
His most notable work as highlighted by the media. It was later showcased in the movie “The Imitation Game” is cracking the Enigma coding system. The Enigma system is a complex code used by the Germans to pass messages which had over a thousand possible combinations. Alan Turing successfully decoded “The Enigma Code” which was a major support to the Allies.
The son of a civil servant, Turing is educated at a top private school at Sherborne. This is where he met his first love, Christopher Morcom. Then he develops a significant friendship with his fellow learner. And this leaves him heartbroken when Morcom dies due to Bovine Tuberculosis. He contracted the disease by drinking infected cow’s milk a few years previously.
Background of Alan Turing
He studied mathematics at the University of Cambridge and King’s College. In 1936 Turing’s seminal paper was recommended for publication by the American mathematical logician Alonzo Church. He completed his PhD under him.
During World War II, Turing was a leading participant in wartime code-breaking who worked particularly on German Naval ciphers at Bletchley Park. This happened to be Britain’s codebreaking centre that provided Ultra intelligence.
Alan made five major improvements to the British cryptanalysis. These included speeding up the old Polish bombe process and crafting a device that detected the settings of Enigma codes.
He helped the Allies on numerous occasions. Alan also secured numerous victories on their behalf. The most notable of these is the Battle of Atlantic. In doing so, he managed to secure the war for the Allies. Due to numerous sources stating separate facts and counterfactual history, it’s difficult to determine the effect that the Ultra intelligence had. It is mused that it reduced the war by nearly two years and saved roughly 14 million lives.
Alan Turing- His Research
He continued his research after the war at the National Physical Laboratory. It was during this time that he designed the Automatic Computing Machine. It was one of the first designs of a stored-program computer.
In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman’s Computing Machine Laboratory, at the Victoria University of Manchester where he developed the Manchester computers. It was this time when he became interested in Mathematical Biology.
He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis. He also predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction. It was first observed later in the 1960s.
Was being a Homosexual his crime?
Despite this glorious plethora of accomplishments to his name, most of his work remained hidden, partly due to the Official Secrets Act and partly due to his homosexuality. Homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s and was considered as a crime. Turing confesses to the police, who comes to his house after a break-in, that he is in a sexual relationship with the perpetrator. He was charged for gross indecency for the relationship with 19-year old Arnold Murray.
Upon his arrest, he was given the option of temporary probation with regular hormonal treatment for libido reduction (considered by many as chemical castration) or imprisonment. He chose the former, unwilling to accept imprisonment. He was treated with estrogen for a year which eventually rendered him impotent. His clearance for research was taken away and he was barred from continuing his work in cryptography with the GCCS.
On June 7, 1954, Alan Turing was found dead in his house with an apple and four ounces of a fluid that smelled like cyanide. His death was ruled as an accident, and the post mortem showed nothing more.
Love Is Love- Homosexuality was not the crime but homophobic treatment was.
In 2009, thanks to an online campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a political candidate, made a public apology on behalf of the government for his inhumane treatment. Queen Elizabeth granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013. His case became a major example of the unjust acts against homosexuals that have earned a nickname of itself. The “Alan Turing Law” is the informal name of an act of 2017, that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.