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Remembering Alan Turing On His 99th Birthday 146

Blacklaw writes "Today marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, a noted polymath and cryptanalyst who is regarded by many as being the grandfather of modern computing."
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Remembering Alan Turing On His 99th Birthday

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  • Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @09:26AM (#36540568)

    Thank you mister Turing. Sorry about the whole anti-gay thing.

    Sent from my physical implementation of Turing Machine.

    • Sent from my physical implementation of Turing Machine.

      Ok, I'm impressed - where do you keep your infinitely large memory tape?

      But seriously, that guy was probably as much a part of the Allied victory as General Patton was, and proof that homophobia hurts all of us.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        You're falling into the trap of saying that just because he was good at math and patriotic, homosexuality could not possibly be a problem.

        It's just as easy to take a convicted serial killer with a predilection for men and use that as proof that homosexuals are deviant and dangerous.

        Alan Turing was not great because he was gay, he was great because he was smart and worked for freedom. He also happened to be gay.

        I personally agree that there is nothing about being gay that makes you a public danger, and so i

        • When you have a secret your employers would disapprove of, you are blackmailable and are considered a liability. Then homophobes (or any other -ophobes) will use that an excuse to exclude people that are different from their super-secret clubs. Ironically, if the employers weren't homophobes, the employee's sexuality would not create a security risk.
        • I believe you misunderstood the comment. I believe my grandparent meant that discriminating against people is stupid and harmful, this being a particular example of it harming our society.
      • Ok, I'm impressed - where do you keep your infinitely large memory tape?

        At using lazy evaluation.

    • ...but I drew up a dinky cartoon about Alan Turing's treatment:

      Super Science Ninja Squad: Alan Turing []

    • That's Doctor Turing to you. :)

  • by Gandalf_the_Beardy ( 894476 ) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @09:27AM (#36540592)

    I always wonder what more he would have gone on to if he hadn't been branded a pervert - one of the UK Govt's more shameful episodes.

    As it was, the Turing machine remains an excellent means of terrorising computing undergraduates. I've never seen such confusion when we saw the concept for the first time in class.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thought 100 would be the more "special" occasion.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @09:57AM (#36540872)

    While we're in dire need of your skills, we'll look past your "oddities", but as soon as the fag did his part he can as well go to hell.

    How many good people do we have to lose due to hypocrites and stupid laws influenced by religion before we notice that the Gallileos and Turings did more to our progress as humans than all the bible thumpers together?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I call BS:

      Just because you would like to believe that all "bible thumpers are idiots does not make it true, and just because some people (the church) have made bad decisions does not make them all wrong. Please remember that "the Church" was also the same group that pushed for public education, health care reform, communcation and peace.

      • "Bible thumper" means a lot more than Christian. It means someone who loudly proclaims that all truth comes from the Bible, and that anything that contradicts the Bible is wrong. It means someone who reads the Bible, and if he's smart enough to see the internal contradictions, twists his mind to find ways to make the contradiction go away.

        Such people are at a substantial disadvantage compared to others who aren't wasting their time on fairy tales or destroying their minds making nonsense compatible with rea

    • Gallileos ... did more to our progress as humans than all the bible thumpers together

      Remember that shortly before Galileo the monks were just about the only literate persons and wrote all of the literature in their time. The church was huge and its right hand often offered a blessing while the left destroyed. It was part of a larger social order that by constant warfare between tiny states (among other savage means) prevented anyone else from gaining education, be it accidental or intentional. Of course, the world isn't arranged by feudalism anymore and its last remnants (the church, monarc

    • Well, the Bible thumpers have had their moments: []

      And Galileo _was_ a devout Catholic (which makes his story all the more poignant).

      At least you got Turing's situation right. What we really need is for someone to make the explicit statement that ``Civil Unions'' should be accorded _all_ the legal rights, privileges and status as marriage and we could move on to solving real problems as opposed to arguing over labels. At least the UN go

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Then too there was Anthony Blunt who was gay, a Soviet spy, worked in MI5 during the war (and passed on Enigma translations which originated with the group where Turing worked) and who ended up working as an art historian (in part for the royal family, I believe) and who did quite well for himself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the Gallileos and Turings did more to our progress as humans than all the bible thumpers together?
      Yeah, Newton was a chump!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You do realize that almost all of Galileo's work was done on The Church's dime right? But keep believing the fairy tale that bible thumpers aren't also patrons of science.

  • There's a campaign that was start to Knight Alan Turing, which would be an appropriate honor bestowed by the government which treated him so horrifically. More information is available here: [] ...or just Google it. If it were to happen a year from today, that would be wonderfully appropriate, though I doubt Turing would care too much about a number stuck in base 10.

  • Alan Turing demonstrated (through what was a thought experiment) the very nature of computation. His contributions stand head and shoulders over any other computational theorist, ever.

    Turing machines model computation while striping away all the artifacts required to really build a computer system. At the same time, they demonstrate and prove that there isn't any difference between the results of a computer, and a computer simulating a computer. In one paper he provided us with the model to understand ho

    • Dude, I know that it is Alan's birthday, but you shouldn't use it to diss the Church like that.

    • by glwtta ( 532858 )
      His contributions stand head and shoulders over any other computational theorist, ever.

      Well, Alonzo Church had a bit to do with it, too.
  • Has anyone ever suggested that the British government issue an apology (torturing him because he was gay) to his family or the gay community as well as doing something to commemorate him?

  • Of all the days that Google should have a custom search page today would be it. They've had it for people a lot more obscure than Turing who is ultimately responsible for any of them having jobs. Just sayin!
  • I learned about Turing many years ago, but his personal story was only made aware to me recently.

    I am glad to see that apologies have been made but it doesn't make up for the tragedy of a brilliant man...a brilliant gay pioneer.

    Speculation on if he committed suicide fails to mention that a dramatic side effect of estrogen use in males is the development of female secondary sexual characteristics, a "second pubery". Two years on estrogen injections that no doubt were at quite a high dosage to supress t
    • It's worth pointing out that it hasn't ALWAYS been true. It's more true of modern, western societies. If you look into the history of both homosexuality and monogamy, the trend towards cruelty started just a couple thousand years ago.

      'Spartanizing' was a word Athenians used to describe the practice of having sex with boys. Contrary to the movie 300, Spartans were the ones likely to be in homosexual relationships. (In fact, I've read that Spartans were encouraged to partner with one of the other troops; peop

  • Hey, let's write to the creators of the Logicomix [] - they were planning for a second book that would follow Von Neumann and Turing! What better occasion than the 100th anniversary!

    I though their work about Russell, Whitehead , Godel and so on was simply superb!

  • Do we really need to celebrate the birthday of every person that was a remote genius, and more importantly dead?

    True, he was a great person (I had to build a Garden to get that 25% bonus to produce him, i'll have you know!), but there were at least thousands of others.. do we celebrate de Vinci's birthday? Babbages? Lady Ada?.. no.. so maybe we can get over this whole bday thing? kthx.

    PS: I celebrate Turing every day by using crypto in my daily computing anyway..

    • It's funny how you manage to leave out the really great minds in computer science. Church, Cook, and Levin should be the ones you mention, since their work is at least on par with Turing's. Lady Ada makes for a nice story about programming, but it pales in comparison to:
      • Church and Turing settling the Entscheidungsproblem and proving that different models of computability are equivalent (Church-Turing thesis).
      • Cook and Levin establishing the existence of the NP-complete problems.
      • Micali and Goldwasser's ear
  • or step the fuck off this site
  • Google really screwed up on this one, given the odd people/events they already created doodles for, especially given who made Google possible in the first place. Shame on you Google... shame.
  • "Modern computing"? He's the father (or certainly one of the fathers) of computation as any sort of scientific or mathematical discipline.

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.