Alan Turing’s Long Overdue Pardon

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Alan Turing's Long Wait To Be Pardoned

Alan Turing’s Long Wait To Be Pardoned

Computer Science Pioneeer

We still remember Alan Turing’s Google Doodle for his 100th birthday last year.  It was definitely one of our favorite Google Doodles over the years.  So when we heard about the latest pardon for the Computer Science’s great innovators we just had to learn more about this.  If you aren’t sure who Alan Turing is then please visit his Wikipedia page.

Turing’s Google Doodle

Google doodle for Alan Turing’s 100th birthday

This is a logic puzzle game in which the player must correct a series of programs to print the desired numbers on a Turing Machine tape. This game appeared on the Google homepage on 23 June 2012 to celebrate Alan Turing’s 100th birthday, and is archived permanently at:

Please feel welcome to extend and enjoy!

Here is a bit of an expert from UK’s The Guardian Coverage of the story.

 Alan Turing Granted Royal Pardon By The Queen

Alan Turing, the World War Two codebreaker who later killed himself after receiving a criminal conviction for his homosexuality, is granted a Royal pardon by the Queen

A Young Programmer, Alan Turing

A Young Programmer, Alan Turing.

Alan Turing has finally been granted a pardon for his conviction for homosexuality.  Alan Turing, the wartime codebreaker, has been granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen for his criminal conviction for homosexuality.  Dr Turing, who helped Britain to win World War II, killed himself after receiving the conviction in 1952.  He has now been granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a high-profile campaign supported by tens of thousands of people including Professor Stephen Hawking.

David Cameron said: “Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War Two by cracking the German Enigma code.

“His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the father of modern computing.”

Turing's Pardon

Turing’s Pardon

Dr Turing, a “genius” mathematician, was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he invented the machine which cracked the Enigma codes used by German U-boats in the Atlantic. Historians believe his work may have shortened the war by two years.

However, despite the importance of his work Dr Turing was convicted of gross indecency for having a relationship with a 19-year-old.  At that time homosexuality was illegal, and he chose to be chemically castrated with injections of female hormones rather than go to jail. He committed suicide two years later.

In 2009 Gordon Brown, the then Labour Prime Minister, made a public apology for Mr Turing’s treatment, but at the time ministers said it was not possible to overturn his conviction for gross indecency.  Last year ministers rejected a motion which would have helped to clear the way for Mr Turing to be granted Parliamentary Pardon because Mr Turing was “properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence”.  The government dropped its opposition to a similar motion this year, but has decided to request a Royal pardon for Dr Turing.

Read More from this article here.

Here is a Look at the Coverage From the NY Times

Alan Turing, Enigma Code-Breaker and Computer Pioneer, Wins Royal Pardon

Alan Turing Cracking The German Enigma Code

Alan Turing Cracking The German Enigma Code

Nearly 60 years after his death, Alan Turing, the British mathematician regarded as one of the central figures in the development of the computer, received a formal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II on Monday for his conviction in 1952 on charges of homosexuality, at the time a criminal offense in Britain.

The pardon was announced by the British justice secretary, Chris Grayling, who had made the request to the queen. Mr. Grayling said in a statement that Mr. Turing, whose most remarkable achievement was helping to develop the machines and algorithms that unscrambled the supposedly impenetrable Enigma code used by the Germans in World War II, “deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science.”

The British prime minister, David Cameron, said in a statement: “His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’ ”

Mr. Turing committed suicide in 1954, two years after his conviction on charges of gross indecency. He was 41. In a 1936 research paper, Mr. Turing anticipated a computing machine that could perform different tasks by altering its software, rather than its hardware.

He also proposed the now famous Turing test, used to determine artificial intelligence. In the test, a person asks questions of both a computer and another human — neither of which they can see — to try to determine which is the computer and which is the fellow human. If the computer can fool the person, according to the Turing test, it is deemed intelligent.

Read more here.

Who Was Alan Turing?

This website, History Heroes dotorg provides a nice summary of Who he was.   He had the idea and vision of a computer to perform mathematical formulas before computers were invented.

This man was a national treasure and we hounded him to his death… I’m looking for an apology from the British government because that’s where I think the wrong was done. But Turing is clearly someone of international stature. – John Graham-Cumming, computer scientist
Alan Turing is often called the father of modern computing. He was a brilliant mathematician and logician. He developed the idea of the modern computer and artificial intelligence. During the Second World War he worked for the government breaking the enemies codes and Churchill said he shortened the war by two years.

Born in London in 1912, Turing attended Sherborne School in Dorset and then, later, King’s College Cambridge and Princeton University in the USA.

At the outbreak of World War Two, Alan Turing joined the Government Codes and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. He worked on breaking the code for the German Enigma machine, a device for sending coded messages to units of the German forces. Turing developed a machine (the Bombe) which helped break the code. He also went on to break the Naval Enigma and even more complicated machine. His wartime services helped to win the war, but his work was so secret that very few people were aware of the importance of what he had done at Bletchley Park.

Turing went on to become deputy director of the computing lab at Manchester University.

He sadly died too young, in tragic circumstances, a victim of the discriminatory laws of the day. It is often wondered how much further ahead computing would be, if he had lived.

Picture Gallery Alan Turing

Alan Turing Memorial

Alan Turing Memorial

Learn more about his legacy and acheivments

Finally, I can’t mention Alan Turing without showcasing his Mathematical innovations.  This research paper on the Rutgers University website has a good overview of Turing and some of his mathematical work.

Read more on Turing and his Development of the Electronic Computer here from Jonathan Salinas

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