When the history books of the future are written, Alan Turing will go down in the company of Newton and Darwin and Einstein. His visions changed how humanity conceives computation, information and patterns — and 100 years after his birthday, Turing’s legacy is alive and growing.
In his twenties he turned his attention to one of the most important mathematical problems of the twentieth century – the Decision Problem. He conceived of a machine which would read symbols on a strip of tape – 0s and 1s and showed that dark areas in mathematics would always pose a barrier to the complete truth. This machine model became one of the cornerstones of computer science.
Alan Turing, the English logician who successfully cracked Nazi coding machines during WWII. Having pioneered concepts like “algorithm” and “computation”, Turing is considered one of the chief architects of early computing as well as what would become artificial intelligence. In order to be a perfect and beautiful computing machine, it is not requisite to know what arithmetic is. What Turing had discovered, in their different ways, was the existence of competence without comprehension. «The behavior of the computer at any moment is determined by the symbols which he is observing and his “state of mind” at that moment. We may suppose that there is a bound B to the number of symbols or squares which the computer can observe at one moment. If he wishes to observe more, he must use successive observations. … The operation actually performed is determined … by the state of mind of the computer and the observed symbols. In particular, they determine the state of mind of the computer after the operation is carried out.»