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Alan Turing - Famous Computer Engineer

Alan Turing was a British programming expert that forever changed how the computer works. He was instrumental in breaking the code of the German Enigma Machine during the Second World War. He also singlehandedly crafted modern computing and artificial intelligence as they are seen today. Alan Turing passed away after he took his life in 1954.

Early in His Life

Alan was born in 1912, two years before the First World War. He belonged to a middle-class family that was involved in the colonization of India. Early on in life, Alan was interested in science. His interest led him to conduct chemistry experiments. Alan was fascinated with physics as he took a particular interest in quantum mechanics and relativity. However, when he attended Cambridge, his mind had turned to logic, mathematics, and statistics. This shift led him to create the Turing Machine.

Turing Machine

Soon after university, Alan was deep into logic and mathematical theories. He considered how the mind’s action can relate to that of a machine. In particular, he wanted to know if all mathematical claims were verifiable. As a result, the Turing Machine was developed, which proved that automated computation is incapable of solving all mathematical questions. This conclusion is considered as the fundamental of modern computing theory.

The idea behind the Turing Machine was replicated into multiple machines in Alan’s thought process. He theorized that he could make several Turing Machines that work together. Each machine worked based on a different algorithm. In turn, each algorithm forms instructions, which can be standardized. Therefore, a universal Turing Machine can perform all tasks using different forms of instructions. This idea in reality formed the basis for a computer.

Turing Test

Earlier on during his university days, Alan not only learned computing, logic, science, and mathematics. He was also interested in philosophy. This interest led to the creation of the Turing Test. Alan considered if machines are able to think like humans. The answer to this question became the Turing Test.

Alan conceived that if any machine is able to interact, act, and react like a human, then it can be considered intelligent. The test involved a subject asking a human and a computer series of questions. The subject must differentiate between the human and computer-based on the answers they give. The computer’s ability to make the subject think that it is human makes it intelligent. This simple principle is at the core of development in artificial intelligence as discussions are still happening around this test.

Breaking the Enigma

After studying in America for a few years, Alan came back to England and landed a job with the British Government. During that time, Alan cracked the code of the German Enigma Machine. The Enigma was a complex communication device that allowed the German Navy to communicate using encryption. Alan was able to develop a decryption system that was able to break the complex encryption and allow the British Government to gain valuable information that helped the Allied Forces to defeat Germany.

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