Alan Turing: Computing Genius and Wartime Code Breaker by Harry Henderson

By Harry Henderson

This paintings offers the existence and noteworthy accomplishments of a in demand 20th-century scientist whose impressive contributions to his box have garnered around the globe appreciate and popularity.

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Extra info for Alan Turing: Computing Genius and Wartime Code Breaker (Makers of Modern Science)

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This, of course, is Calculating Minds 31 what computers do today—but there were no general-purpose digital computers at the time. Instead, Turing created a computer in his mind. He visualized a continuous roll of square paper sections. ) He asked himself what he needed when he sat down to solve a calculation—a pad of paper, a pencil, and instructions that break the process down to the simplest possible steps. He wanted just the essence of the process. When he had eliminated all but the most necessary elements of the machine, all he had really was the infinite strip of toilet paper, a little scanner to determine the contents of a given square, and the following operations: ““the ability to write one of a specified set of symbols on the current square (in the most common Turing machine, there are two symbols, 1 and 0, where 0 is equivalent to “blank”) ““the ability to erase the current square (which is the same as saying replacing its symbol with the symbol “blank”) ““the ability to move the tape one square to the left or right, thereby changing the position of the machine’s “head” or pointer ““a register in which the machine can store its current “state”—essentially a label that describes what the machine has just done.

As would often happen, Harrison rejected Turing’s expression of his desire to go beyond friendship, but they remained friends. Turing was not a glib conversationalist—he would often stutter as his voice struggled to keep up with his mind. Nevertheless, he was not immune to the political currents that were sweeping through Cambridge and other British universities. With the devastation of the Great War (World War I) fresh in their minds, many students and professors signed pledges to refuse to participate in any future war.

There was a growing realization that the complexity of modern industry and communications and the need of governments and business to collect and process statistical data was outstripping Calculating Minds 29 the capacity of mechanical devices (such as tabulators), even in the hands of skilled operators. What was needed was a means of rapid automatic computation, where a set of instructions could be repeatedly applied without human intervention. This would require both a conceptual breakthrough and a technological advance.

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