This June
23 marks 100 years to the birth of Alan Turing, a mathematician, a pioneer in
computer science who contributed in the fields of logic, cryptanalysis,
cognitive science, artificial intelligence and biology. Although it is
recognized in these fields of science, many times their contribution has not
been sufficiently highlighted.

Who was
Alan Turing, and why was it so important? A few days after the celebration of
his birthday, we will briefly review his life.

Turing was
born in London on June 23, 1912, and from an early age showed interest and
talent for mathematics, something that would specialize in college then. Turing
graduated from King's College, Cambridge in 1934 with honors.

In 1936 he
presented one of his first papers relevant. At that time, a problem that was
being debated among mathematicians was the Entscheidungsproblem or
"trouble-making", proposed in 1928 by German mathematician David
Hilbert.

The
original problem came from the seventeenth century, when the mathematician
Leibniz Gottfrief was perfecting one of the first calculators, and thought of
the possibility of creating a machine that could determine the truth of a
mathematical approach or theorem. Hilbert put it as a machine that could answer
"yes" or "no" to determine whether a claim was universally
valid for a predetermined set of axioms. The problem can also be seen as
creating an algorithm that can decide when a claim can be corroborated on the
basis of the axioms, using logical rules.

**Turing machine**

The problem
is unsolvable, which was tested both by Alonzo Church and Alan Turing in a more
or less simultaneously using different methods. The result was embodied in a
theorem set.

However,
the test proposed by Turing introduced the creation of the Turing machine, a
device that manipulates symbols hypothetical tape according to a table of
rules.

Despite its
simplicity, the Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any
computer algorithm, and is used today in computer theory to explain the
functions of the CPU within a computer. Turing proved that such a machine could
perform any mathematical computation if it can be represented by an algorithm.

The idea of
a "universal machine" that could perform the tasks of any other
machine - or be able to compute anything computable - was new at this time.

After this
paper, Turing worked nearly two years with Alonzo Church at the Institute for
Advanced Study in Princeton, United States. Besides working in mathematics,
Turing began to study encryption or cryptography. In June 1938 obtained his
Ph.D. from Princeton University.

**World War II**

After
completing his doctorate, Turing returned to Cambridge, where he began working
part time at the School Government Code and Cipher (GCCS), a British
intelligence agency whose mission was to advise on safety codes and ciphers
used by the government , and also study communication methods used by other
countries encrypted.

World War
II would begin next year, and Turing played a vital role in the agency while
working to decipher the codes used by the Germans during the war goes
communicate. Particularly focused on Enigma, a machine used by the Germans,
were summarized and deciphering secret messages in Morse code, and whose
understanding allowed the Allies to know in advance the enemy's plans.

Turing
worked with experienced Dilly Knox in the GCCS to improve the method made by
Poland to read the messages, which led to the creation of bombe, a machine
whose function was to discover the configuration of the Enigma machines used in
German networks for can then find the key that would read the message.

During the
war, Turing also provided to address other encryption systems used by the
Nazis, especially the version of Enigma used by the German Navy, which was more
complex than using the other branches. This led to a special unit known as
"Hut 8".

In many
cases, improved way to figure that already existed. The mathematician employed
several statistical techniques to optimize test different alternatives in the
process of deciphering a code.

Turing
wrote two papers about it that were considered so valuable by the GCCS and
sucessora, GCHQ, which were not made public until April this year.

During his
tenure with this agency, Turing earned a reputation as an eccentric. For
example, I had a bicycle to which the chain was coming out every few pedal
strokes. Rather than repaired, Turing had the amount of pedaling and wearing
down just in time to adjust the chain before they leave. It also says he used
to tie his bowl to the heating pipes to avoid being stolen.

**End of war and artificial intelligence**

After the
war, Turing moved to Richmond, London, where he worked on the design of
"Computational Motor Auto" or ACE, the National Physical Laboratory.
In 1946 he presented a paper which detailed the first detailed design of a
computer program stored, ie, instructions for a program stored in an electronic
memory. Although the proposed design was possible to manufacture, the amount of
secrets after the war had delayed the implementation of the project and finally
Turing left him.

In late
1947, the mathematician took a sabbatical and returned to Cambridge. While
outside, he built the first ACE, which ran its first program on May 10, 1950.
Although the ACE model proposed by Turing was never built, his ideas led to
machines like the English Electric DEUCE and the Bendix G-15 years later.

In 1948,
Turing began working in the Department of Mathematics, University of
Manchester, where he did further research in abstract mathematics, coming
little by little in the field of artificial intelligence.

Turing
proposed in 1950 a test called the "Turing Test", which attempts to
define a standard for a machine can be considered "smart." The idea
was to put a human to examine a machine. If humans could not make out, through
conversation, if your partner was human or machine, it was concluded that the
computer was able to think.

In his
paper, Turing proposed that instead of creating a program that simulates an
adult mind, which would have to do is create a simpler, you can simulate a
child's mind, and then "educate".

A few years
before considering this, Turing had started to develop a chess program to run
it on a computer - that did not exist. In 1952, the absence of any machine
powerful enough to run the program that had been raised, simulating the Turing
played chess computer, taking half an hour for each move on the board. The
program lost to Turing's friend, Alick Glennie.

**Homosexuality and later years**

Turing
worked from 1952 until his death in mathematical biology and morphogenesis, the
mechanism by which an organism gets its way. Of particular interest was the
existence of Fibonacci numbers to the structure of the plants.

Although
Turing had admitted his homosexuality in times of war, was in the 50's that
brought sexual orientation issues. In January 1952, Turing met Arnold Murray at
the exit of a cinema in Manchester, with whom he began dating. Murray, however,
took advantage of Turing confidence to enter your house to steal a few weeks.
Turing reported the crime to the police, and during the investigation, admitted
a sexual relationship with Murray.

Homosexual
acts were illegal in the UK at the time, so both were convicted of "gross
indecency". The punishment options were being caught, or undergo chemical
castration on probation. Turing chose the latter alternative.

Having been
convicted of a "crime" was forbidden to continue the consulting unit
performed in the cryptanalysis of the British intelligence agency.

On June 8,
1954, Turing was found dead in his home. It was determined that the cause of
death was cyanide poisoning. His body was found next to an apple bite, and
although not reviewed the apple, is believed to have ingested the poison
through the fruit. According to novelist David Levitt, Turing's favorite story
was Snow White, so it may have reproduced the scene of the apple in his
suicide.

It is not
clear why it took this decision. It may have been police surveillance, or maybe
something else. Chemical castration is considered one of the possible reasons.
In 2009 he launched a petition to the British government to apologize for his
treatment mathematician.

"Thousands
of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition
of the shameful way he was treated. While Turing was tried by the law of time
and can not turn back the clocks, the deal was completely unfair and I am glad
to have the opportunity to say how deeply sorry I and all what happened. So, on
behalf of the British government and all those who live freely thanks to the
work of Alan, I am very proud to say: sorry, deserved so much better,
"wrote the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown this year.

In 2011
there was a request that he "forgive" his crime, however, the request
was rejected. Lord McNally said at the time that "the law of his time
called for a condemnation, and as such, the long-term policy has been to accept
that these convictions occurred, instead of trying to alter the historical
context to correct what can not be corrected we must ensure we never will those
times again. "

Turing was
honored by several universities and received several awards and posthumous
tributes. This year there are also many celebrations for the centenary of his
birth, not only in the United States but also in the U.S., Germany, Brazil,
Spain, New Zealand and other countries.

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