DCS Celebrates Alan Turing's Centenary
Wednesday 20th June saw the Department of Computer Science (DCS) host a celebration of the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, a pioneer in Mathematics who is widely considered to be the founding father of Computer Science.
The event was well attended by both staff and students alike, with many undergraduates making the most of being free from exams. The highlight of the day were the talks, by three academics from DCS.
Martin Campbell-Kelly opened the day talking about the ACE, a computer designed by Turing that was at the heart of the British computer industry. The talk highlighted the relationship between Britain and America in the days before the founding of Computer Science as we know it, and provided an interesting perspective on the part Turing played in the development of the modern computer.
Following this bright start to the day, Sara Kalvala delivered a riveting talk on Turing's last published work - his theory of morphogenesis. Turing's theory provides an insight as to how cells that are identical can divide into the diverse range of cells that make up natural life. Sara also highlighted a recent paper that is thought to prove this theorem, going on to show how the popular press turned it into a theory of how tigers get their stripes!
After lunch, Ben Sach concluded the day with a closer look at Turing's personal life. Beginning with Turing's early life, including his infamous 60 mile cycle to Sherbourne school, Ben's talk followed Turing's life through Cambridge, to Bletchley Park, and finally to Manchester University. This more intimate view of Turing, often told through extracts written by those who knew him best, provided a fitting end to the day of celebration by highlighting Turing's eccentric, yet charming nature.