Alan Mathison Turing, 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954, was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of “algorithm” and “computation” with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science andartificial intelligence. He was stockily built, had a high-pitched voice, and was talkative, witty, and somewhat donnish He showed many of the characteristics that are indicative of Asperger syndrome.
Duringthe Second World War, Turing worked for theGovernment Code and Cypher School (GCCS)atBletchley Park, Britain’scodebreakingcentre. For a time he was head ofHut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking Germanciphers, including the method of thebombe, anelectromechanicalmachine that could find settings for theEnigma machine.
After the war he worked at theNational Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, theACE. In 1948 Turing joinedMax Newman’sComputing Laboratory atManchester University, where he assisted in the development of the Manchester computersand became interested inmathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis ofmorphogenesis,and he predictedoscillatingchemical reactionssuch as theBelousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.
Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined it was suicide; his mother and some others believed his death was accidental. On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.