Widely known as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing was a British scientist who developed a machine that helped in decoding Nazi ciphers during World War II. His works are widely acknowledged as a foundation for research on computer science and AI. In addition to being a brilliant man, he was famous among the LGBTQ community as well because at a time when homosexuality was a taboo and considered illegal, he was an openly gay man however he ultimately succumbed to the convictions that had been made against him. Almost after 60 years of his death, in 2013, Queen Elizabeth II posthumously pardoned him.
His unconventionality, struggles throughout his life for being gay and more importantly, his journey as a scientist are altogether an inspiration for millions.
Early life and career
Born on June 23, 1912, Turing belonged to an upper middle class British family in London. He went to Sherborne School and since childhood, he had an affinity for mathematics and science. After Sherborne, he attended King’s College, University of Cambridge where he further honed his skills in mathematics and it was at that point in time that he started to discover his homosexuality.
Soon after his graduation, he formulated a research paper where he presented a concept of a universal machine (later called the ‘Universal Turing Machine’). The paper was considered to be the precursor to the modern computer. Soon afterwards, he enrolled at Princeton University from where he received his Ph.D. and then took up a part-time job at a British code-breaking organisation – Government Code and Cypher School.
Code breaking during WWII
Turing was a lead participant in wartime code-breaking and he was able to crack the Enigma code which is used in German naval communication and is usually considered unbreakable. However, his achievements in code-breaking didn’t stop there. He also delivered two papers which later became important assets to the Code and Cypher School and they were released at the National Archives of the United Kingdom in 2012.
He has made several notable contributions in the field of computer science and AI the list of which is endless. He is also credited with being the first person to come up with a theory for software as well. Owing to this ground-breaking discoveries, inventions and contributions, he had been honoured with Order of the British Empire Award. A life-size statue of Turing was also unveiled at the University of Surrey in 2004 to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. Furthermore, Princeton University Alumni Weekly regarded him as the second most significant alumnus in the history of the university with James Madison in the no.1 position.