The Essential Turing: Classic Writings On Minds And Computers

Paperback | October 13, 2004

EditorB. Jack. Copeland

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Alan Turing, pioneer of computing and WWII codebreaker, is one of the most important and influential thinkers of the twentieth century. In this volume for the first time his key writings are made available to a broad, non-specialist readership. They make fascinating reading both in their ownright and for their historic significance: contemporary computational theory, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and artificial life all spring from this ground-breaking work, which is also rich in philosophical and logical insight. An introduction by leading Turing expert Jack Copelandprovides the background and guides the reader through the selection. About Alan TuringAlan Turing FRS OBE, (1912-1954) studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of King's in March 1935, at the age of only 22. In the same year he invented the abstract computing machines - now known simply as Turing machines - on which all subsequent stored-programdigital computers are modelled. During 1936-1938 Turing continued his studies, now at Princeton University. He completed a PhD in mathematical logic, analysing the notion of 'intuition' in mathematics and introducing the idea of oracular computation, now fundamental in mathematical recursion theory. An 'oracle' is an abstractdevice able to solve mathematical problems too difficult for the universal Turing machine.In the summer of 1938 Turing returned to his Fellowship at King's. When WWII started in 1939 he joined the wartime headquarters of the Government Code and Cypher School (GCandCS) at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. Building on earlier work by Polish cryptanalysts, Turing contributed crucially to thedesign of electro-mechanical machines ('bombes') used to decipher Enigma, the code by means of which the German armed forces sought to protect their radio communications. Turing's work on the version of Enigma used by the German navy was vital to the battle for supremacy in the North Atlantic. Healso contributed to the attack on the cyphers known as 'Fish'. Based on binary teleprinter code, Fish was used during the latter part of the war in preference to morse-based Enigma for the encryption of high-level signals, for example messages from Hitler and other members of the German HighCommand. It is estimated that the work of GCandCS shortened the war in Europe by at least two years. Turing received the Order of the British Empire for the part he played.In 1945, the war over, Turing was recruited to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London, his brief to design and develop an electronic computer - a concrete form of the universal Turing machine. Turing's report setting out his design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) was the firstrelatively complete specification of an electronic stored-program general-purpose digital computer. Delays beyond Turing's control resulted in NPL's losing the race to build the world's first working electronic stored-program digital computer - an honour that went to the Royal Society ComputingMachine Laboratory at Manchester University, in June 1948. Discouraged by the delays at NPL, Turing took up the Deputy Directorship of the Royal Society Computing Machine Laboratory in that year. Turing was a founding father of modern cognitive science and a leading early exponent of the hypothesis that the human brain is in large part a digital computing machine, theorising that the cortex at birth is an 'unorganised machine' which through 'training' becomes organised 'into a universalmachine or something like it'. He also pioneered Artificial Intelligence.Turing spent the rest of his short career at Manchester University, being appointed to a specially created Readership in the Theory of Computing in May 1953. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in March 1951 (a high honour). In March 1952 he was prosecuted for his homosexuality,then a crime in Britain, and sentenced to a period of twelve months hormone 'therapy'.From 1951 Turing worked on what would now be called Artificial Life, using the Ferranti Mark I computer to model aspects of biological growth, in particular a chemical mechanism by which the genes of a zygote could determine the anatomical structure of the resulting animal or plant. He died in themidst of this groundbreaking work.

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Alan Turing, pioneer of computing and WWII codebreaker, is one of the most important and influential thinkers of the twentieth century. In this volume for the first time his key writings are made available to a broad, non-specialist readership. They make fascinating reading both in their ownright and for their historic significance: co...

B. J. Copeland is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:624 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.25 inPublished:October 13, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198250800

ISBN - 13:9780198250807

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Table of Contents

Jack Copeland: Alan Turing 1912-1954Jack Copeland: Computable Numbers: A Guide1. On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidensproblem (1936)2. Alan Turing, Emil Post, and Donald W. Davies: On Computable Numbers: Corrections and Critiques3. Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals (1938)4. Letters on Logic to Max Newman (c. 1940)Jack Copeland: Enigma5. Patrick Mahon: History of Hut 8 to December 1941 (1845)6. Bombe and Spider (1940)7. Letter to Winston Churchill (1941)8. Memorandum to OP-20-G on Naval Enigma (c. 1941)Jack Copeland: Artificial Intelligence9. Lecture on the Automatic Computing Machine (1947)10. Intelligent Machinery (1948)11. Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950)12. Intelligent Machinery, A Heretical Theory (c. 1951)13. Can Digital Computers Think?14. Alan Turing, Richard Braithwaite, Geoffrey Jefferson, and Max Newman: Can Automatic Calculating Machines Be Said to Think? (1952)Jack Copeland: Artificial Life15. The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1952)16. Chess (1953)17. Solvable and Unsolvable Problems (1954)

Editorial Reviews

"A sophisticated, compelling, and philosophically competent account of the role that Turing has played in the information revolution. No bibliography on the foundations of computing is complete without The Essential Turing. This attractive package offers an essential text for any scholar of the history, philosophy, or future of computing, and an excellent textbook for every academic program concerned with philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, or artificial life. Copeland's commentary and effortless writing turn reading the works of the father of the digital age into a pleasure, making The Essential Turing an accessible bestseller in popular science."--Ammon H. Eden, Minds & Machines "Alan Turing, pioneer of computing and World War II code breaker, was one of the most important and influential thinkers of the twentieth century. In this book, Turing's work... is made easily accessible for the first time...This volume contains the work of a genius who, in his all too short life, made significant contributions in important areas benefiting us today. -- Cryptologia Reviews "In this book, Turing's key writings...are made easily accessible for the first time. Lectures, scientific papers, top secret wartime material, correspondence, and broadcasts are introduced and set in context by Jack Copeland, Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing." --The American Cryptogram Association "It is a book that belongs in your personal library to read at your leisure. It would be a welcome gift."--Cryptologia "A sophisticated, compelling, and philosophically competent account of the role that Turing has played in the information revolution. No bibliography on thefoundations of computing is complete without The Essential Turing. This attractive package offers an essential text for any scholar of the history, philosophy, or future of computing, and an excellent textbook for every academic program concerned with philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, or artificial life. Copeland's commentary and effortless writing turn reading the works of the father of the digital age into a pleasure, making The Essential Turing an accessible bestseller in popular science."--Ammon H. Eden, Minds & Machines "Both the editorial commentaries and Turing's own writings are engrossing reading."--The Review of Modern Logic