Alan Turing


British mathematician Alan Turing is credited with both laying the foundations for modern computer science with his hypothetical Turing machines and with cracking the German Enigma code during World War II (which was not, as the phrase implies, a one-time event, but an ongoing war on several fronts). His Turing test to determine the intelligence of a machine was a foundation for the philosophy of artificial intelligence. Due to a combination of gag orders surrounding intelligence collection and Turing’s conviction for “gross indecency”, he was not widely credited for his achievements until decades after his death.

Turing was issued an apology from the then-Prime Minister of the British government in 2009 and a royal pardon in 2014. The Turing Archive for the History of Computing, an online database for original documents from the history of computers, is named in his honor; on a more artistic front, pop group The Pet Shop Boys premiered an original operatic biography of Turing at the BBC Proms.


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