Alan Turing: Virtuoso Visionary


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Alan Turing (1912–1954) has been increasingly recognised as an important mathematician and philosopher who despite his short life developed ideas that today have led to foundational aspects of computer science and related fields. Some of Turing’s mathematics can be visualised in interesting and even artistic ways, aided using software. Early in his career he developed the foundational concept of what later became known as the Universal Turing Machine, a theoretical version of what is now implemented as a digital computer. Even Turing’s abstract concept of such a machine can generate interesting patterns. Towards the end of his life, Turing also worked on morphogenesis, literally “creation of shape” from the Greek-derived words morph and genesis. This is the biological process in which a living organism develops its shape and has become influential in bioinformatics. A significant corpus of the historical material related to Turing can now be accessed online through a number of major archives with digitised documents. More recently, Alan Turing had inspired creativity in the arts with output in media as diverse as books, film, music, painting, plays, and sculpture. This talk provides an overview of these diverse aspects related to Turing’s remarkable achievements. Although the story of Turing can be seen as one of tragedy, with his life cut short while still at the height of his intellectual powers, from a historical viewpoint Turing’s contribution to humankind has been triumphant.

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Alan Turing: Virtuoso Visionary

  1. 1. Alan Turing Prof. Jonathan P. Bowen Emeritus Professor of Computing London South Bank University (LSBU) Currently Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS) Hebrew University of Jerusalem Chairman, Museophile Limited Virtuoso Visionary
  2. 2. Introduction • Subjects: Mathematics, engineering, art, computer science, software engineering, museum informatics, history of computing • Collaboration: Archivists, historians, library scientists, mathematicians, museologists, philosophers, sociologists • Academia: Imperial College (London), Oxford, Reading, Birmingham City, London South Bank University • Visitor: UNU-IIST (Macau), King’s College London, Brunel, Westminster, Waikato (New Zealand), Pratt Institute (New York, USA), Institute for Advanced Studies (Jerusalem) • Industry: Marconi, Logica, Silicon Graphics, Altran Praxis • EVA London Conference on Electronic Visualisation & the Arts (co-chair)
  3. 3. Overview • Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) • Mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker • “Founder/father of computer science” • Increasingly in the public consciousness • Centenary meetings at Bletchley Park, Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, etc., in 2012 • Mathematics can be visualised • Digital archives of Turing material
  4. 4. Contributions to knowledge • The Universal Machine (1936) • Code-breaking (WW II) • Computers and computing (1946) • Artificial Intelligence (1950) • Morphogenesis (1952)
  5. 5. Alan Turing: The Enigma Definitive biography by Andrew Hodges, Wadham College, Oxford. 1st edition, 1983. Centenary edition, 2012.
  6. 6. The Scientists: An epic of discovery • Andrew Robinson (ed.), Thames & Hudson, 2012 • 43 scientists through history • Includes Alan Turing • And Einstein of course! • How do they compare?
  7. 7. Einstein (a diversion!) Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University Einstein Archive Albert Einstein Square Garden of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  8. 8. Einstein New 2015 sculpture on Givat Ram campus
  9. 9. Einstein’s Blackboard, Oxford “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” – Albert Einstein (1879–1955) Bust in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Blackboard in the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford (lecture in Oxford on 16 May 1931) Turing is not known to have visited Oxford!
  10. 10. Turing’s Worlds (23–24 June 2012) Dept. of Continuing Education, Oxford University Authors in The Turing Guide
  11. 11. • Cake at Oxford centenary meeting. Happy Birthday Alan Turing! (2012)
  12. 12. The Turing Guide A collected set of 42 chapters on Alan Turing. Co-editors: • Jonathan Bowen (London South Bank University, England) – computer scientist (at IIAS) • Jack Copeland (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) – philosopher (at IIAS) • Mark Sprevak (University of Edinburgh, Scotland) – philosopher • Robin Wilson (Open University / Oxford University, England) – mathematician
  13. 13. Table of Contents • Foreword by Andrew Hodges • Preface by the editors • Eight parts • Notes and references • Notes on contributors • Index
  14. 14. Table of Contents – parts I. Biography II. The Universal Machine and Beyond III. Codebreaker IV. Computers after the War V. Artificial Intelligence and the Mind VI. Biological Growth VII. Mathematics VIII. Finale
  15. 15. 1. Life and work • Jonathan P. Bowen, Jack Copeland, Mark Sprevak, and Robin J. Wilson • Biography Born at Colonnade Hotel Maida Vale, London, 1912 Died at home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, 1954
  16. 16. Southampton to Sherborne Arrival at new school: Bicycle ride during the General Strike, 1926 (aged 14) Stayed at the Crown Hotel, Blandford Forum Inspired by school friend Christopher Morcom (died February 1930) when Turing was 17 Turing read and understood Einstein aged 16
  17. 17. Turing at Princeton • Enrolled 29 September 1936 • Dissertation accepted 18 May 1938
  18. 18. Turing at Princeton Turing’s record of study Studied the Theory of Relativity under Howard P. Robertson (1903–1961) Robertson met Einstein, Hilbert, etc., in Göttingen, Germany
  19. 19. 2. The man with the terrible trousers • Sir John Dermot Turing – nephew of Alan Turing • A person view • Author of Prof: Alan Turing Decoded (September 2015) At an exhibition on Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, 2012
  20. 20. 5. A century of Turing • Stephen Wolfram • Wolfram Research • Mathematica – “birthday” (23 June 1988) • Based on a blog • Personal view Turing Machine visualisation Mathematica program: ArrayPlot [Function [u, MapAt [Red &, u[[2]], u[[1, 2]]]] / @TuringMachine [2506,{1, {{}, 0}, 50]]
  21. 21. 6. Turing’s great invention: The computing machine • Jack Copeland – the “Turing machine” An implementation of a Turing machine
  22. 22. 9. At Bletchley Park • Jack Copeland • Enigma, etc. Cottages in the stable yard where Turing did early work on Enigma Hut 8 used by Turing
  23. 23. 10. The Enigma machine • Joel Greenberg • Guide at Bletchey Park • Author of Gordon Welchman: Bletchley Park's Architect of Ultra Intelligence biography (2014)
  24. 24. 12. Bombes • Jack Copeland, with Jean Valentine and Catherine Caughey • Electromechanical deciphering device • Design by Turing et al. (1939) • Bombe reconstruction at Bletchley Park Jean Valentine, Bombe operator, latterly a guide at Bletchley Park
  25. 25. Banburismus and Turingery • Banburismus: a cryptographic method developed by Turing for Enigma (Bombe pre-processing) • Turingery (aka Turing's Method and Turingismus) for breaking the Lorenz cipher Cf. BlackBerry today
  26. 26. 20. Saving Bletchley Park • Simon Greenish and Jonathan Bowen • Former Director • Recent history of Bletchley Park • Now safe (National Lottery funding)
  27. 27. 21. Turing, Lovelace, and Babbage: congruent worlds • Doron Swade, formerly computing curator at the Science Museum, London • Comparing Turing’s achievement with Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace • Analytical Engine
  28. 28. Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) • First “programmer” – 200th anniversary of Ada Lovelace’s birth, 10 December 2015 • Died aged 36 (cf. Turing at 41) • Symposium in Oxford, 10–11 December 2015 • Exhibitions at Weston Library, Oxford & Science Museum, London • Letters in Bodleian Library, Oxford Digitisation project in progress at the Bodleian
  29. 29. The ACE computer • Turing at National Physical Laboratory, 1945–47 • Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), originally designed by Turing, 1946 • Smaller Pilot ACE finally implemented, 1950 • Now in the Science Museum, London
  30. 30. 23. The Manchester Baby • Jack Copeland • Manchester Mark I computer, June 1948 • Turing appointed Reader – worked on software Alan Turing on the right standing at the console of the Manchester Ferranti computer.
  31. 31. 24. Computer music • Jack Copeland and Jason Long • Foreseen by Ada Lovelace • First recorded computer music (God Save the King, Baa Baa Black Sheep, & In the Mood, 1951!) • Ferranti Mark 1 computer at Manchester Programmed by Christopher Strachey (1916–1975), later first head of the Programming Research Group, Oxford, and colleague of Turing Alan Turing (right) at the console of the Ferranti Mark 1
  32. 32. 31. Child machines • Diane Proudfoot (at IIAS) • The Turing Test • Educable machines • Social intelligence “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” – New Yorker
  33. 33. Thought “... at the end of the [20th] century, ... one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.” – Alan Turing Awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS), 1951.
  34. 34. Morphogenesis • The "beginning of the shape” – biological process, patterns • Turing not completely correct, but close enough • Cf. chaos theory Turing, A.M. (1952). “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 237(641):37–64. doi:10.1098/rstb.1952.0012 A diagram from Turing's notes on morphogenesis
  35. 35. 35. Turing’s theory of morphogenisis • Thomas E. Woolley, Ruth Baker, and Philip Maini Centre for Mathematical Biology Mathematical Institute University of Oxford • Earlier title: “All models are wrong, but some are useful” • Turing was not completely correct, but close enough
  36. 36. 36. Radiolaria: Validating the Turing theory • Bernard Richards, University of Manchester • Last masters student under Turing in 1953 • Protozoa with complex mineral skeletons On Alan Turing: “The day he died felt like driving through a tunnel and the lights being switched off.”
  37. 37. Bernard Richards – Masters thesis • Figures
  38. 38. Bernard Richards – Masters thesis • Figures
  39. 39. Bernard Richards – Masters thesis • Figures
  40. 40. Bernard Richards – Masters thesis • Figures
  41. 41. Visualized morphogenesis 2009 Visualization Challenge Science journal cover (19 February 2010)
  42. 42. 41. Is the whole universe computable? • Jack Copeland, Oron Shagrir (at IIAS), Mark Sprevak Chapter still being written!
  43. 43. 42. Turing’s legacy • Jonathan Bowen • Scientific legacy • Turing and modern society • Turing papers – auction • Government pardon • Public consciousness • Google donation to Bletchly Park
  44. 44. Epitaph “A sort of scientific Shelley.” – Sir Geoffrey Jefferson FRS (1886–1961) Professor of Neurosurgery at Manchester Shelley Memorial, University College, Oxford
  45. 45. Epilogue • ACM Turing Award, first awarded 1966 • Increasing public consciousness • Government apology/pardon • Turing papers: auctions • Google donation to Bletchley Park
  46. 46. Bletchley Park – now • Heritage site • Bombe and Colossus reconstructions • National Museum of Computing • Now safe, although needs further funding
  47. 47. Memorials • E.g., slate statue at Bletchley Park by Stephen Kettle • Also statue in Manchester
  48. 48. Alan Turing exhibition at the Science Museum (2012) Even Alan Turing Monopoly! (2012 special edition)
  49. 49. Alan Turing – online archives • Centenary year in 2012 – • Andrew Hodges (Turing biographer) – • Jack Copeland’s Turing Archive (facsimiles) – • The Turing Digital Archive (3,000 images) – King’s College, Cambridge – • Wikimedia Commons (freely available) –
  50. 50. Additionalmaterialto Turing’sdefinitivebiography
  51. 51. Collected set of facsimiles by two academics (currently at IIAS)
  52. 52. Archive at King’s College, Cambridge (Turing’s College)
  53. 53. Pet Shop Boys – Proms • Royal Albert Hall, London, 23 July 2014 • World premiere of “A Man from the Future” • Tribute to Alan Turing
  54. 54. The Imitation Game (2014 film) Historical drama film on the life of Alan Turing, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley (based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges). Filming at King’s Cross Station, London October 2013
  55. 55. Stephen Fry “Turing was a genius who helped shorten the war though his extraordinary solutions to the Enigma and Tunny code machines that the Germans were using ... We owe him a huge debt.”
  56. 56. Alan Turing (1912–1954) • “Father of computer science” • Universal Turing machine • Cryptography (decryption at Bletchley Park) • Artificial intelligence and morphogenesis
  57. 57. Alan Turing and Albert Einstein • Southwest University, Chongqing, China • Are Turing and Einstein on a par? Arguably yes, but Einstein has a head start! Chongqing means “double celebration” (aptly) in Chinese Both generally accepted as geniuses
  58. 58. Einstein in Oxford – again! Free talk at Christ Church, 3 December 2015 Einstein book published by Princeton University Press Honorary degree, 1930s
  59. 59. The Turing Guide • Book due in 2016 • To be published by Oxford University Press • Hard cover, paperback, and e-book • Edited by Jack Copeland, Jonathan Bowen, Mark Sprevak, and Robin Wilson • 42 chapters by contributors largely from Oxford, Cambridge, Bletchley Park meetings • Sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem to complete the book! • See also Gresham College, London, talk:
  60. 60. The Turing Guide Likely front cover picture – new portrait of Turing Note the terrible trousers!
  61. 61. Thank you Alan Turing founder/father of computer science Prof. Jonathan Bowen FBCS, FRSA The Turing Guide (OUP, 2016)
  62. 62. EVA London
  63. 63. AlanTuring