Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Happy Birthday to Alan Turing

... whom I recently mentioned , from Stephen Wolfram.
It's a nice essay, showing easily the breadth of Turing's contributions (this was new to me, as I had only ever learned about his work in my area of specialty). A nice summary from the essay:
He was in some respects a quintessential British amateur, dipping his intellect into different areas. He achieved a high level of competence in pure mathematics, and used that as his professional base. His contributions in traditional mathematics were certainly perfectly respectable, though not spectacular. But in every area he touched, there was a certain crispness to the ideas he developed—even if their technical implementation was sometimes shrouded in arcane notation and masses of detail.

In some ways he was fortunate to live when he did. For he was at the right time to be able take the formalism of mathematics as it had been developed, and to combine it with the emerging engineering of his day, to see for the first time the general concept of computation.


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