Turing, Alan Mathison

Turing, Alan Mathison

Turing, Alan Mathison, 1912-54, British mathematician and computer theorist. While studying at Cambridge he began work in predicate logic that led to a proof (1937) that some mathematical problems are not susceptible to solution by automated computation; in arriving at this, he postulated a universal machine, now called a Turing machine, that was the theoretical prototype of the electronic digital computer. After completing a Ph.D. at Princeton (1938), he returned home to England, where, during World War II, he was instrumental in deciphering German messages encrypted by the Enigma cipher machine. After the war, he helped design computers, first for the British government (1945-48) and then for the Univ. of Manchester (1948-54). During this period, he produced a body of work that helped form the basis of the newly emerging field of artificial intelligence; among his contributions was the Turing test, a procedure to test whether a computer is capable of humanlike thought. Two years after being arrested for a homosexual offense (and then undergoing chemical castration as a "treatment") he committed suicide.

See biography by A. Hodge (1983).

(born June 23, 1912, London, Eng.—died June 7, 1954, Wilmslow, Cheshire) English mathematician and logician. He studied at the University of Cambridge and at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. In his seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers,” he proved that there cannot exist any universal algorithmic method of determining truth in mathematics and that mathematics will always contain undecidable (as opposed to unknown) propositions. That paper also introduced the Turing machine. He believed that computers eventually would be capable of thought indistinguishable from that of a human and proposed a simple test (see Turing test) to assess this capability. His papers on the subject are widely acknowledged as the foundation of research in artificial intelligence. He did valuable work in cryptography during World War II, playing an important role in breaking the Enigma code used by Germany for radio communications. After the war he taught at the University of Manchester and began work on what is now known as artificial intelligence. In the midst of this groundbreaking work, Turing was found dead in his bed, poisoned by cyanide. His death followed his arrest for a homosexual act (then a crime) and sentence of 12 months of hormone “therapy.”

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The A. M. Turing Award is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field". Often recognized as the "Nobel Prize of computing", the award is named after Alan Mathison Turing, a British mathematician who is "frequently credited for being the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence". As of 2007, the award is accompanied by a prize of $250,000, co-sponsored by Intel and Google.

The first recipient, in 1966, was Alan Perlis, then of Carnegie Institute of Technology. Frances E. Allen of IBM, in 2006, is the only female recipient in the award's forty year history.

The award recipients and the fields in which they earned the recognition are listed below. Refer to the individual recipients for more detailed information on their achievements.

Turing Award recipients

Year Recipients Citation
1966 Alan J. Perlis For his influence in the area of advanced programming techniques and compiler construction
1967 Maurice V. Wilkes Professor Wilkes is best known as the builder and designer of the EDSAC, the first computer with an internally stored program. Built in 1949, the EDSAC used a mercury delay line memory. He is also known as the author, with Wheeler and Gill, of a volume on "Preparation of Programs for Electronic Digital Computers" in 1951, in which program libraries were effectively introduced
1968 Richard Hamming For his work on numerical methods, automatic coding systems, and error-detecting and error-correcting codes
1969 Marvin Minsky artificial intelligence
1970 James H. Wilkinson For his research in numerical analysis to facilitate the use of the high-speed digital computer, having received special recognition for his work in computations in linear algebra and "backward" error analysis
1971 John McCarthy Dr. McCarthy's lecture "The Present State of Research on Artificial Intelligence" is a topic that covers the area in which he has achieved considerable recognition for his work
1972 Edsger W. Dijkstra Edsger Dijkstra was a principal contributor in the late 1950's to the development of the ALGOL, a high level programming language which has become a model of clarity and mathematical rigor. He is one of the principal proponents of the science and art of programming languages in general, and has greatly contributed to our understanding of their structure, representation, and implementation. His fifteen years of publications extend from theoretical articles on graph theory to basic manuals, expository texts, and philosophical contemplations in the field of programming languages
1973 Charles W. Bachman For his outstanding contributions to database technology
1974 Donald E. Knuth For his major contributions to the analysis of algorithms and the design of programming languages, and in particular for his contributions to "The Art of Computer Programming" through his well-known books in a continuous series by this title
1975 Allen Newell and
Herbert A. Simon
In joint scientific efforts extending over twenty years, initially in collaboration with J. C. Shaw at the RAND Corporation, and subsequentially with numerous faculty and student colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, they have made basic contributions to artificial intelligence, the psychology of human cognition, and list processing
1976 Michael O. Rabin and
Dana S. Scott
For their joint paper "Finite Automata and Their Decision Problem," which introduced the idea of nondeterministic machines, which has proved to be an enormously valuable concept. Their (Scott & Rabin) classic paper has been a continuous source of inspiration for subsequent work in this field
1977 John Backus For profound, influential, and lasting contributions to the design of practical high-level programming systems, notably through his work on FORTRAN, and for seminal publication of formal procedures for the specification of programming languages
1978 Robert W. Floyd For having a clear influence on methodologies for the creation of efficient and reliable software, and for helping to found the following important subfields of computer science: the theory of parsing, the semantics of programming languages, automatic program verification, automatic program synthesis, and analysis of algorithms
1979 Kenneth E. Iverson For his pioneering effort in programming languages and mathematical notation resulting in what the computing field now knows as APL, for his contributions to the implementation of interactive systems, to educational uses of APL, and to programming language theory and practice
1980 C. Antony R. Hoare For his fundamental contributions to the definition and design of programming languages
1981 Edgar F. Codd For his fundamental and continuing contributions to the theory and practice of database management systems, esp. relational databases
1982 Stephen A. Cook For his advancement of our understanding of the complexity of computation in a significant and profound way
1983 Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie For their development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the implementation of the UNIX operating system
1984 Niklaus Wirth For developing a sequence of innovative computer languages, EULER, ALGOL-W, MODULA and PASCAL
1985 Richard M. Karp For his continuing contributions to the theory of algorithms including the development of efficient algorithms for network flow and other combinatorial optimization problems, the identification of polynomial-time computability with the intuitive notion of algorithmic efficiency, and, most notably, contributions to the theory of NP-completeness
1986 John Hopcroft and
Robert Tarjan
For fundamental achievements in the design and analysis of algorithms and data structures
1987 John Cocke For significant contributions in the design and theory of compilers, the architecture of large systems and the development of reduced instruction set computers (RISC)
1988 Ivan Sutherland For his pioneering and visionary contributions to computer graphics, starting with Sketchpad, and continuing after
1989 William (Velvel) Kahan For his fundamental contributions to numerical analysis. One of the foremost experts on floating-point computations. Kahan has dedicated himself to "making the world safe for numerical computations."
1990 Fernando J. Corbató For his pioneering work organizing the concepts and leading the development of the general-purpose, large-scale, time-sharing and resource-sharing computer systems, CTSS and Multics.
1991 Robin Milner For three distinct and complete achievements: 1) LCF, the mechanization of Scott's Logic of Computable Functions, probably the first theoretically based yet practical tool for machine assisted proof construction; 2) ML, the first language to include polymorphic type inference together with a type-safe exception-handling mechanism; 3) CCS, a general theory of concurrency. In addition, he formulated and strongly advanced full abstraction, the study of the relationship between operational and denotational semantics.
1992 Butler W. Lampson For contributions to the development of distributed, personal computing environments and the technology for their implementation: workstations, networks, operating systems, programming systems, displays, security and document publishing.
1993 Juris Hartmanis and
Richard E. Stearns
In recognition of their seminal paper which established the foundations for the field of computational complexity theory.
1994 Edward Feigenbaum and
Raj Reddy
For pioneering the design and construction of large scale artificial intelligence systems, demonstrating the practical importance and potential commercial impact of artificial intelligence technology.
1995 Manuel Blum In recognition of his contributions to the foundations of computational complexity theory and its application to cryptography and program checking.
1996 Amir Pnueli For seminal work introducing temporal logic into computing science and for outstanding contributions to program and systems verification.
1997 Douglas Engelbart For an inspiring vision of the future of interactive computing and the invention of key technologies to help realize this vision.
1998 Jim Gray For seminal contributions to database and transaction processing research and technical leadership in system implementation.
1999 Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. For landmark contributions to computer architecture, operating systems, and software engineering.
2000 Andrew Chi-Chih Yao In recognition of his fundamental contributions to the theory of computation, including the complexity-based theory of pseudorandom number generation, cryptography, and communication complexity.
2001 Ole-Johan Dahl and
Kristen Nygaard
For ideas fundamental to the emergence of object-oriented programming, through their design of the programming languages Simula I and Simula 67.
2002 Ronald L. Rivest,
Adi Shamir and
Leonard M. Adleman
For their ingenious contribution for making public-key cryptography useful in practice.
2003 Alan Kay For pioneering many of the ideas at the root of contemporary object-oriented programming languages, leading the team that developed Smalltalk, and for fundamental contributions to personal computing.
2004 Vinton G. Cerf and
Robert E. Kahn
For pioneering work on internetworking, including the design and implementation of the Internet's basic communications protocols, TCP/IP, and for inspired leadership in networking.
2005 Peter Naur For fundamental contributions to programming language design and the definition of Algol 60, to compiler design, and to the art and practice of computer programming.
2006 Frances E. Allen For pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.
2007 Edmund M. Clarke,
E. Allen Emerson and
Joseph Sifakis
For [their roles] in developing Model-Checking into a highly effective verification technology, widely adopted in the hardware and software industries.

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