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EN | Personajes ilustres – Turing

Turing, Alan ( 1912 - 1954 )

British mathematician and logician, Turing was born in London on 23 June 1912.

During had a privileged mind for solving highly abstract complex problems and was one of the originators of the concept of computer science. In 1935, as a student at King’s College, Cambridge, he started his work on mathematical logic.

He spent the years from 1936 to 1938 at Princeton University, where he received his doctorate and he made the acquaintance of von Neumann, Courant, Weil and Einstein. There, he published On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem in 1937 and his theoretical description of a universal computer.

He had a highly constructive interaction with von Neumann with a view to laying the theoretical foundations of computing, based on his conception of abstract machines capable of processing symbols (Turing machines) and computable numbers. He also conducted research on logic, algebra and number theory.

In 1938, he returned to England and accepted a position at King’s College. During World War II he served at the British Government Communications Headquarters, where he met Polish engineer Robert Lewinsky, who had worked with the Germans on the design of an electromechanical system for encrypting communications and then joined the British Secret Service. He began investigating and developed a theory to solve the German Enigma encryption problem.

In 1945, he joined the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, where he worked on the design, construction and use of a large automatic computer called Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). There he also researched neural networks and explored artificial intelligence. Around 1949, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Computing Machine Laboratory at Manchester, where MADAM (Manchester Automatic Digital Machine) was being built. From 1950 to 1951, he conducted philosophical research on artificial intelligence, the Turing Test and the theory of morphogenesis.

In 1952, he published the first part of his theory of morphogenesis, development patterns and shape in living organisms. Turing was a homosexual, and his personal life was to deteriorate after treatment with female hormones led to significant physical changes, leading to his suicide on 7 June 1954 in Wilmslow, Cheshire.