Technical Tour - Alan Turing
SELF-GUIDED TECHNICAL HISTORY TOUR OF SITES ASSOCIATED WITH ALAN TURING
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This tour is being constructed by the Staff of the IEEE History Center.
Alan Turing was born in Maida Vale, London, on 23 June 1912. The hospital in Warrington Crescent was converted to a hotel and bears a blue plaque in his honor.
Turing began studying at a boarding school in Sherborne in 1926, at 13 years old. His first day coincided with the 1926 General Strike in Britain, but he was so determined to attend that he rode his bicycle 60 miles, stopping overnight, on his own. Turing formed a significant friendship with fellow pupil Christopher Morcom, who died in 1930, which urged Turing to work even harder in their shared interests, which were mathematics and science.
Turing went on to study at King's College, Cambridge, from 1931 to 1934. In 1935 he was elected a fellow of King's on his dissertation which proved the central limit theorem. In 1936 Turing famously published "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem" in response to a problem proposed by David Hilbert in 1928. Turing proved that his "universal computing machine" (later called a Turing machine), could perform any mathematical computation if it was represented as an algorithm. The logic he set up in this paper is largely responsible for the concept of the modern computer.
Breaking the German Cipher
Turing began work as a codebreaker for the Government Code and Cypher School in 1938, and reported to Bletchley Park the day after Britain declared war in 1939. His major accomplishment was the development of an electromechanical machine called the bombe, after the Polish bomba kryptologiczna which it replaced. It was largely automated and was used to crack Enigma-enciphered messages. Turing later turned his attention to the more complicated naval Enigma and made several advancements in its decryption.