Alan Mathison Turing a.k.a Alan Turing in short, was an English Mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist. With the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer, Turing had a significant impact on the development of theoretical computer science, offering a formalisation of the ideas of algorithm and computation. Turing is regarded as the founder of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
Turing was born in Maida Vale, London, and raised in the south of England. He earned a mathematics degree from King’s College, Cambridge.
He received his PhD from Princeton University’s Department of Mathematics in 1938. Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre where Ultra intelligence was developed, during WWII. He led Hut 8, the section in charge of German navy cryptanalysis, for a time. Here, he developed a number of techniques for breaking German cyphers faster, including modifications to the pre-war Polish bombe device, an electromechanical mechanism that could identify Enigma machine settings. Turing was instrumental in deciphering intercepted coded signals that allowed the Allies to defeat the Axis powers in a number of key battles, including the Battle of the Atlantic.
Turing went on to work at the National Physical Laboratory after the war, where he created the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), one of the first stored-program computers.
Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts, which were punishable at the time. He was given two choices where he could be imprisoned for 2 years or get a hormone therapy every two weeks to suppress homosexual traits.
Turing died of cyanide overdose 16 days before his 42nd birthday in 1954. The life of Alan Turing during the war period was depicted in the 2014 movie “The Imitation Game” directed by Morten Tyldum.