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Alan Mathison Turing

Update (11/23/2013): "Now, nearly half a century after the war hero's suicide, Queen Elizabeth II has finally granted Turing a pardon." (http://usat.ly/19bLZET) Long overdue!!!


With academic background in applied mathematics and computer science and years of experience in Information Technology it would be incredibly surprising if I didn't know of Alan Turing, or so I thought. Sure, I knew who he was and had a good idea of what he had contributed to the fields of mathematics, logic, cryptography, and of course computer science, which he basically founded; and things like Turing Machine, Turing Test, and Enigma Code-breaking have been widely popularized. I also knew that he died relatively young, but I am ashamed to admit that I didn't know anything about the circumstances surrounding his premature death. That is until I read the following in the book titled "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" by James Gleick:
"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."
Imagine my disappointment over the treatment of a man who has given so much to his country, to the world, to the mankind - Alan Mathison Turing. 

The following excerpt from the same book made me feel a tiny bit better:
"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."
And I find the following very fitting:

Special thanks to Ian Watson for his blog post, which includes the full text of the apology as well as photo of the original letter!

Comments

  1. You can read the full text of the PM's apology to Turing on my blog http://universal-machine.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/full-text-of-pms-apology-to-alan-turing.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot! I hope you don't mind me linking to your post.

      Also, how about getting "The Universal Machine" onto the Amazon Kindle? I'd like to add your book to my reading list :) Andrew

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