Cover image for Turing : pioneer of the information age
Turing : pioneer of the information age
Copeland, B. Jack, 1950- , author.
Publication Information:
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
300 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Format :


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Central Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-Biography
Audubon Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Clarence Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Eggertsville-Snyder Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Hamburg Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Orchard Park Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library QA29.T8 C66 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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Alan Turing is regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. But who was Turing, and what did he achieve during his tragically short life of 41 years? Best known as the genius who broke Germany's most secret codes during the war of 1939-45, Turing was also the father of themodern computer. Today, all who "click-to-open" are familiar with the impact of Turing's ideas. Here, B. Jack Copeland provides an account of Turing's life and work, exploring the key elements of his life-story in tandem with his leading ideas and contributions. The book highlights Turing's contributions to computing and to computer science, including Artificial Intelligence and ArtificialLife, and the emphasis throughout is on the relevance of his work to modern developments. The story of his contributions to codebreaking during the Second World War is set in the context of his thinking about machines, as is the account of his work in the foundations of mathematics.

Author Notes

Jack Copeland is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where he is Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing. His books include The Essential Turing (Oxford University Press), Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers(Oxford University Press), Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine (Oxford University Press), Logic and Reality: Essays on the Legacy of Arthur Prior (Oxford University Press), and Artificial Intelligence (Blackwell). He has published more than 100 articles on the philosophy and history ofcomputing, and mathematical and philosophical logic.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The introduction to computer pioneer Alan Turing by philosopher and leading Turing scholar Copeland reveals a life too complex for a short volume. Described by his mother as an "unsociable and dreamy child," Turing found his calling in mathematics, applying his talents to WWII code-breaking intelligence (efforts "kept secret for almost sixty years"), but the breakthroughs that earned him a place in history were those in software-centric and stored-program computing, developments that gave rise to the fields of artificial intelligence and artificial life. Turing's work was an exploration of the human mind via computers, though he theorized that there is nevertheless a "mysterious something" in the human mind that goes "beyond computability." It is an increasingly relevant inquiry, as Turing's inventions have spread from military-industrial applications into the everyday. Copeland is best at revising popular myths about Turing's life (including a rebuttal of claims that Turing committed suicide), but colorful digressions into contextual errata sometimes occlude these revelations. Perhaps this effect is intentional, presenting Turing as his contemporaries saw him: a puzzling enigma, a brilliant mind directing traffic at the intersection of man and machine. 20 b&w illus. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Choice Review

Alan Turing (1912-54) is an enigmatic historical figure who inspires both fascination and respect. His universal Turing machine is the blueprint for the modern computer, and his work on cracking the Enigma and Tunny ciphers at Bletchley Park have been cited by many as helping to alter the course of WW II. Copeland (philosophy, Univ. of Canterbury, New Zealand; co-director,, CH, Dec'03, 41-2210), a recognized expert on Turing, writes an engaging biography of this brilliant but socially awkward scientist, focusing in particular on the Bletchley Park years. The author deftly avoids condescension in describing Turing's complex work to a lay audience. The scientist's life was no less complex. Turing is called the father of computing, but his interests were eclectic, with innovative ideas on artificial thinking and mathematical biology that profoundly influenced the work of others. Sadly, his own work was cut short when he died at 41 of an apparent suicide. This aspect of Turing's life is controversial, as some maintain that he died by accident. Copeland explores the circumstances surrounding Turing's death with sensitivity. This book is entertaining and informative. Black-and-white photographs and graphics supplement the text. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All general and academic readers. S. M. Frey Indiana State University

Table of Contents

1 Click, Tap, or Touch to Openp. 1
2 The Universal Turing Machinep. 11
3 America, Mathematics, Hitlerp. 23
4 Di-di-di-dah-Enigma Callingp. 37
5 Turing's U-boat Battlep. 55
6 1942: Back to America + Hitler's New Codep. 77
7 Colossus, Delilah, Victoryp. 99
8 ACE, A Month's Work in a Minutep. 123
9 Manchester's 'Electronic Brain'p. 145
10 The Imitation Game-Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Lifep. 173
11 Cold Porridgep. 199
12 /END////p. 223
Appendix: A Simple Turing Machinep. 235
Notesp. 239
Indexp. 289

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