Alan Turing

Turing, Alan Mathison

Alan Mathison Turing, 1912–54, British mathematician and computer theorist. While studying at Cambridge he began work in predicate logic that led to a proof (1937) that some mathematical problems are not susceptible to solution by automated computation; in arriving at this, he postulated a universal machine, now called a Turing machine, that was the theoretical prototype of the electronic digital computer. After completing a Ph.D. at Princeton (1938), he returned home to England, where, during World War II, he was instrumental in deciphering German messages encrypted by the Enigma cipher machine. After the war, he helped design computers, first for the British government (1945–48) and then for the Univ. of Manchester (1948–54). During this period, he produced a body of work that helped form the basis of the newly emerging field of artificial intelligence; among his contributions was the Turing test, a procedure to test whether a computer is capable of humanlike thought. Two years after being arrested for a homosexual offense (and then undergoing chemical castration as a "treatment" ), he died of cyanide poisoning. His death was ruled a suicide at the time, but the exact circumstances of his death are unclear, and it has been argued that it could have been accidental. In 2013 Turing was posthumously pardoned for his 1952 conviction for homosexuality.

See biographies by S. Turing (his mother, 1959, rev. ed. 2012) and A. Hodges (1983, repr. 2012)); G. Dyson, Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Alan Turing: Selected full-text books and articles

Alan Turing: The Enigma By Andrew Hodges Princeton University Press, 2012
The Legacy of Alan Turing By P. J. R. Millican; Alan Mathison Turing; A. F. Clark Clarendon Press, vol.1, 1996
Machines and Intelligence: A Critique of Arguments against the Possibility of Artificial Intelligence By Stuart Goldkind Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "The Turing Test"
Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park By F. H. Hinsley; Alan Stripp Oxford University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "Hut 8 and Naval Enigma, Part 1"
Artificial Intelligence and Literary Creativity: Inside the Mind of BRUTUS, a Storytelling Machine By Selmer Bringsjord; David A. Ferrucci Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Setting the Stage: The Turing Test Sequence"
The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World By Colin McGinn Basic Books, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "The Turing Test" begins on p. 186
Philosophy of Mind By Jaegwon Kim Westview Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Turing Machines" begins on p. 80, "'Physical Realizations' of Turing Machines" begins on p. 85 and "The Turing Test" begins on p. 96
Program of the Tenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society: 17-19 August 1988, Montreal, Quebec, Canada By Cognitive Science Society Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1988
Librarian’s tip: "Subcognitive Probing: Hard Questions for the Turing Test" begins on p. 361
The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World By David Hodgson Clarendon Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: "In Computer Science" begins on p. 75
Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind By Gerald M. Edelman BasicBooks, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Digital Computers: The False Analogue" begins on p. 218
Electronic Technology, Corporate Strategy, and World Transformation By Maurice Estabrooks Quorum Books, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Microchip and the Computer: Technological Underpinnings of the Postindustrial Society"
Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications By Charles Crawford; Dennis L. Krebs Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Evolutionary Psychology and Theories of Cognitive Architecture"
Godel: A Life of Logic By John L. Casti; Werner DePauli Perseus Pub., 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Mechanism and Mathematics"
Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern By Douglas R. Hofstadter Basic Books, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 21 "Review of Alan Turing: The Enigma November, 1983" and Chap. 22 "A Coffeehouse Conversation on the Turing Test May, 1981"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.