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Alan Turing

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Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (pronounced /ˈtjʊərɪŋ/ TYOOR-ing; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was influential in the development of computer science and providing a formalization of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, playing a significant role in the creation of the modern computer.[1]

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre. For a time he was head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. After the war he worked at the UK National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE).

Towards the end of his life Turing became interested in chemistry. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis,[2] and he predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.

Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952—homosexual acts were illegal in the United Kingdom at that time—and he accepted treatment with female hormones, (chemical castration), as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954, several weeks before his 42nd birthday, from an apparently self-administered cyanide poisoning, although his mother (and some others) considered his death to be 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.

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