Considered by many to be the father of computer science, Alan Turing is remembered today for his many contributions to the study of computers, artificial intelligence, and code breaking. On December 24, Queen Elizabeth II officially pardoned the late British mathematician and the action recalled attention to his groundbreaking work as well as his personal life. In 1952, Turing was charged with homosexuality, which was considered a criminal act in England at the time. Two years later, he took his own life. Today, mathematicians and computer scientists celebrate Turing’s broad contributions to his field.
For more on the life and work of Turing, check out these resources:
Princeton University Press recently re-released Andrew Hodges’s biography of Alan Turing: Alan Turing: The Enigma — The Centenary Edition.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades–all before his suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges’s acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing’s life.
Turing earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton in 1938. Watch the video below to hear Andrew Appel (chair of the department of computer science at Princeton) discuss Turing’s legacy.
Andrew Appel on Alan Turing’s legacy
(Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science)
Appel, a Princeton graduate, is the editor of another recent release by Princeton University Press, Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic: The Princeton Thesis.
Though less well known than his other work, Turing’s 1938 Princeton PhD thesis, “Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals,” which includes his notion of an oracle machine, has had a lasting influence on computer science and mathematics. This book presents a facsimile of the original typescript of the thesis along with essays by Andrew Appel and Solomon Feferman that explain its still-unfolding significance.
Preview the book by reading Chapter One.