- NAME: Alan Turing
- OCCUPATION: Educator, Mathematician
- BIRTH DATE: June 23, 1912
- DEATH DATE: June 07, 1954
- EDUCATION: King's College (University of Cambridge), Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, St. Michael's School, Princeton University, Sherborne School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: London, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: Wilmslow, United Kingdom
- Full Name: Alan Mathison Turing
- AKA: Alan Turing
Best Known For
Famed mathematician Alan Turing proved in his 1936 paper, "On Computable Numbers," that a universal algorithmic method of determining truth in math cannot exist.
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Turing went on to hold high-ranking positions in the mathematics department and later the computing laboratory at the University of Manchester in the late 1940s. He first addressed the issue of artificial intelligence in his 1950 paper, "Computing machinery and intelligence," and proposed an experiment known as the “Turing Test”—an effort to create an intelligence design standard for the tech industry. Over the past several decades,
the test has significantly influenced debates over artificial intelligence.
Homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, so when Turing admitted to police—who he called to his house after a break-in—in January 1952 that he had had a sexual relationship with the perpetrator, 19-year-old Arnold Murray, he was charged with gross indecency. Following his arrest, Turing was forced to choose between temporary probation on the condition that he receive hormonal treatment for libido reduction, or imprisonment. He chose the former, and soon underwent chemical castration through injections of a synthetic estrogen hormone for a year, which eventually rendered him impotent.
As a result of his conviction, Turing's security clearance was removed and he was barred from continuing his work with cryptography at the GCCS, which had become the GCHQ in 1946.
Turing died on June 7, 1954. Following a postmortem exam, it was determined that the cause of death was cyanide poisoning. A half-eaten apple was found beside Turing's bed and although it was not tested for cyanide, it is believed that it was through the apple that the fatal dose was consumed: An inquest determined that Turing had committed suicide.
In a June 2012 BBC article, philosophy professor and Turing expert Jack Copeland argued that Turing's death may have been an accident: The apple was never tested for cyanide, nothing in the accounts of Turing's last days suggested he was suicidal and Turing had cyanide in his house for chemical experiments he conducted in his spare room.
Shortly after Turing's death, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his work. For his 86th birthday, Turing biographer Andrew Hodges unveiled an official English Heritage blue plaque at his childhood home. In June 2007, a life-size statue of Turing was unveiled at Bletchley Park, in Buckinghamshire, England. A bronze statue of Turing was unveiled at the University of Surrey on October 28, 2004, to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. Additionally, the Princeton University Alumni Weekly named Turing the second most significant alumnus in the history of the school.
Turing was honored in a number of other ways, particularly in the city of Manchester, where he worked toward the end of his life. In 1999, Time magazine named him one of its "100 Most Important People of the 20th century," saying, "The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine." Turing was also ranked 21st on the BBC nationwide poll of the "100 Greatest Britons" in 2002. By and large, Turing has been recognized for his impact on computer science, with many crediting him as the "founder" of the field.
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