Alan Turing aged 16 Credit: King's College
Saturday 23 June marks the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing - mathematical genius, hero of the WWII code breakers of Bletchley Park, and father of modern computing. To celebrate, a short film produced by the University. A blue plaque will be unveiled on the front of King’s College - where Turing was both a student and then a fellow.
Turing’s centenary year is a very special year for me, and other mathematicians like me."
Alan Turing was a mathematician, cryptographer and pioneer of computer science who possessed one of the greatest brains of the 20th century. His life was one of secret triumphs shadowed by public tragedy.
Perhaps best known today for his part in breaking the German Enigma code during World War II, Turing was by that time already established as a mathematician of extraordinary capability.
During his time at King’s College, Cambridge, he conceived of the ’Turing Machine’ – a universal machine which could imitate all possible calculating devices. This mathematical model went on to become one of the cornerstones of computer science, and is arguably the most influential mathematical abstraction of the 20th Century. Turing was 22 years old.
"Turing’s centenary year is a very special year for me, and other mathematicians like me," said James Grime from the University’s Millenium Maths Project, who regularly tours schools with an original ’Enigma’ machine.
"In its purest form, mathematics is the search for truth, and Turing was one of the most important contributors to this search. It’s fantastic that his life is being celebrated."
Grime has presented a short film produced by the University on the life and work of Turing for the University’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. The film uses some of the photographs and documents that his family gave to King’s College. The Turing family have continued to donate documents to the King’s Archive Centre, and you can see many of these online at the Turing Digital Archive.
At 3.30pm on the afternoon of the centenary day, Saturday 23 June, the Mayor of Cambridge – Councillor Sheila Stuart – will unveil a Blue Plaque to commemorate Alan Turing on the grass in front of King’s College. The event will be streamed live on the internet on the King’s College website here.
A major centenary conference looking at Turing’s impact on mathematics, computing, philosophy and beyond is currently taking place in Cambridge – where the first issue of a new interdisciplinary journal called “Computability” has been presented. Inspired directly by Turing and his work, the journal aims to capture the spirit of Turing through the combination of theoretical insight and practical application that is the mark of Turing’s work.