Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Alan Mathison Turing

The life and work of Turing, born 100 years ago last month, are laid out in the Wikipedia entry. The Computer History project has recently added a recording of interviews with Jack Good and Donald Michie on YouTube. There is a more personal memoir by his late brother at The Daily Beast. (I'm glad to see confirmation of the story of the buried silver in this.) More information about his pioneering work in computer science is still coming out. His work at Bletchley Park on code-breaking was classified until recently and it seems personal animosity by others working on the world's first stored-program computer has down-played his contribution to programming it. On the other side of the Atlantic, early computer designers have not admitted knowing of Turing's ideas which, considering that he was a post-graduate at Princeton for two years, strains credulity.

To my mind, the call for a pardon for his crime (which it was then) of expressing his sexuality is an irrelevance and ignores the equal justification for giving retrospective pardons to thousands of other men caught by what was notoriously a "blackmailer's charter".  Let us just celebrate the work and seminal ideas of a great man.

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