Essential Turing by B. J. Copeland
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Essential Turing
By B. J. Copeland

The Essential Turing

Seminal Writings in Computing, Logic, Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence, and Artificial Life, Plus the Secrets of Enigma

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Format: Paperback

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Essential Turing by B. J. Copeland

Book Description

Alan Turing, pioneer of computing and WWII codebreaker, is one of the most important and influential thinkers of the twentieth century. In this volume for the first time his key writings are made available to a broad, non-specialist readership. They make fascinating reading both in their own right and for their historic significance: contemporary computational theory, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and artificial life all spring from this ground-breaking work, which is also rich in philosophical and logical insight. An introduction by leading Turing expert Jack Copeland provides the background and guides the reader through the selection. About Alan Turing Alan Turing FRS OBE, (1912-1954) studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of King's in March 1935, at the age of only 22. In the same year he invented the abstract computing machines - now known simply as Turing machines - on which all subsequent stored-program digital computers are modelled. During 1936-1938 Turing continued his studies, now at Princeton University. He completed a PhD in mathematical logic, analysing the notion of 'intuition' in mathematics and introducing the idea of oracular computation, now fundamental in mathematical recursion theory. An 'oracle' is an abstract device able to solve mathematical problems too difficult for the universal Turing machine. In the summer of 1938 Turing returned to his Fellowship at King's. When WWII started in 1939 he joined the wartime headquarters of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. Building on earlier work by Polish cryptanalysts, Turing contributed crucially to the design of electro-mechanical machines ('bombes') used to decipher Enigma, the code by means of which the German armed forces sought to protect their radio communications. Turing's work on the version of Enigma used by the German navy was vital to the battle for supremacy in the North Atlantic. He also contributed to the attack on the cyphers known as 'Fish'. Based on binary teleprinter code, Fish was used during the latter part of the war in preference to morse-based Enigma for the encryption of high-level signals, for example messages from Hitler and other members of the German High Command. It is estimated that the work of GC&CS shortened the war in Europe by at least two years. Turing received the Order of the British Empire for the part he played. In 1945, the war over, Turing was recruited to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London, his brief to design and develop an electronic computer - a concrete form of the universal Turing machine. Turing's report setting out his design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) was the first relatively complete specification of an electronic stored-program general-purpose digital computer. Delays beyond Turing's control resulted in NPL's losing the race to build the world's first working electronic stored-program digital computer - an honour that went to the Royal Society Computing Machine Laboratory at Manchester University, in June 1948. Discouraged by the delays at NPL, Turing took up the Deputy Directorship of the Royal Society Computing Machine Laboratory in that year. Turing was a founding father of modern cognitive science and a leading early exponent of the hypothesis that the human brain is in large part a digital computing machine, theorising that the cortex at birth is an 'unorganised machine' which through 'training' becomes organised 'into a universal machine or something like it'. He also pioneered Artificial Intelligence. Turing spent the rest of his short career at Manchester University, being appointed to a specially created Readership in the Theory of Computing in May 1953. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in March 1951 (a high honour).

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780198250807
ISBN-10: 0198250800
Format: Paperback
(242mm x 166mm x 31mm)
Pages: 620
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 9-Sep-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...


Books By Author B. J. Copeland

Turing by B. J. Copeland Turing, Paperback (October 2014)

B. Jack Copeland celebrates the life and work of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. Best known for the role he played in cracking German secret code Enigma during World War Two, and the personal tragedy of his death aged only 41, this is an insight into to the man, his work, and his legacy.

Alan Turing's Electronic Brain by B. J. Copeland Alan Turing's Electronic Brain, Paperback (May 2012)

Well known for this crucial wartime role in breaking the ENIGMA code, this book chronicles Turing's struggle to build the modern computer. Includes first hand accounts by Turing and the pioneers of computing who worked with him.

Colossus by B. J. Copeland Colossus, Paperback (March 2010)

Shrouded in secrecy until recently, Colossus was the world's first fully-functioning electronic computer, built during the Second World War and used at Bletchley Park to crack the codes of high-level Nazi communications. This collection of essays delves into code-breaking, personal recollections, and declassified information.

» View all books by B. J. Copeland

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Author Biography - B. J. Copeland

Alan Turing FRS OBE, (1912-1954) studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of King's in March 1935, at the age of only 22. In the same year he invented the abstract computing machines - now known simply as Turing machines - on which all subsequent stored-program digital computers are modelled. During 1936-1938 Turing continued his studies, now at Princeton University. He completed a PhD in mathematical logic, analysing the notion of 'intuition' in mathematics and introducing the idea of oracular computation, now fundamental in mathematical recursion theory. An 'oracle' is an abstract device able to solve mathematical problems too difficult for the universal Turing machine. In the summer of 1938 Turing returned to his Fellowship at King's. When WWII started in 1939 he joined the wartime headquarters of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. Building on earlier work by Polish cryptanalysts, Turing contributed crucially to the design of electro-mechanical machines ('bombes') used to decipher Enigma, the code by means of which the German armed forces sought to protect their radio communications. Turing's work on the version of Enigma used by the German navy was vital to the battle for supremacy in the North Atlantic. He also contributed to the attack on the cyphers known as 'Fish'. Based on binary teleprinter code, Fish was used during the latter part of the war in preference to morse-based Enigma for the encryption of high-level signals, for example messages from Hitler and other members of the German High Command. It is estimated that the work of GC&CS shortened the war in Europe by at least two years. Turing received the Order of the British Empire for the part he played. In 1945, the war over, Turing was recruited to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London, his brief to design and develop an electronic computer - a concrete form of the universal Turing machine. Turing's report setting out his design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) was the first relatively complete specification of an electronic stored-program general-purpose digital computer. Delays beyond Turing's control resulted in NPL's losing the race to build the world's first working electronic stored-program digital computer - an honour that went to the Royal Society Computing Machine Laboratory at Manchester University, in June 1948. Discouraged by the delays at NPL, Turing took up the Deputy Directorship of the Royal Society Computing Machine Laboratory in that year. Turing was a founding father of modern cognitive science and a leading early exponent of the hypothesis that the human brain is in large part a digital computing machine, theorising that the cortex at birth is an 'unorganised machine' which through 'training' becomes organised 'into a universal machine or something like it'. He also pioneered Artificial Intelligence. Turing spent the rest of his short career at Manchester University, being appointed to a specially created Readership in the Theory of Computing in May 1953. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in March 1951 (a high honour). In March 1952 he was prosecuted for his homosexuality, then a crime in Britain, and sentenced to a period of twelve months hormone 'therapy'. From 1951 Turing worked on what would now be called Artificial Life, using the Ferranti Mark I computer to model aspects of biological growth, in particular a chemical mechanism by which the genes of a zygote could determine the anatomical structure of the resulting animal or plant. He died in the midst of this groundbreaking work.

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