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EBOOK Ô Alan Turing: The Enigma ⚣ Alan Turing was a British mathematician who made history His breaking of the German U boat Enigma cipher in World War II ensured Allied American control of the Atlantic But Turing s vision went far beyond the desperate wartime struggle Already in the s he had defined the concept of the universal machine, which underpins the computer revolution Inhe was a pioneer of electronic computer design But Turing s true goal was the scientific understanding of the mind, brought out in the drama and wit of the famous Turing test for machine intelligence and in his prophecy for the twenty first centuryDrawn in to the cockpit of world events and the forefront of technological innovation, Alan Turing was also an innocent and unpretentious gay man trying to live in a society that criminalized him Inhe revealed his homosexuality and was forced to participate in a humiliating treatment program, and was ever after regarded as a security risk His suicide inremains one of the many enigmas in an astonishing life story This biography was a struggle to get through I picked it up in audiobook form in anticipation of The Imitation Game hitting theaters this fall I didn t immediately realise how long and thorough it would be, though I knew I was venturing into a topic I knew very little about.Here s the thing the parts of this biography that deal with Alan Turing s personal life are EXTREMELY interesting and well researched I loved how detailed they were and found it a fascinating portrait of a man I knew ve This biography was a struggle to get through I picked it up in audiobook form in anticipation of The Imitation Game hitting theaters this fall I didn t immediately realise how long and thorough it would be, though I knew I was venturing into a topic I knew very little about.Here s the thing the parts of this biography that deal with Alan Turing s personal life are EXTREMELY interesting and well researched I loved how detailed they were and found it a fascinating portrait of a man I knew very little about But a great deal of this biography also delved into detailed descriptions of Alan Turing s experiments and inventions, of which I understood almost nothing I found myself glazing over for big chunks of the book while the author described the different types of codebreaking techniques I know they were absolutely relevant, but they got so technical that someone like me, with very little ability in math or computer sciences, couldn t make heads nor tails of what was being talked about.That being said, the story of Alan Turing s life was interesting enough that I kept going through all 30 hours of the audiobook and I really enjoyed the parts that I could understand The last 3 hours of the audiobook were, in particular, heartbreaking to listen to The way Turing was treated and the way he ended his life was a terrible, terrible tragedy It s only a small comfort that we ve made tiny strides in gay and lesbian rights though the fact that that topic is still a hot debate is shameful.So despite my boredom through some of this biography, I have to rate it highly because it was incredibly well written when it came to getting a portrait of Turing s life I am really looking forward to seeing The Imitation Game and watching this incredible life take form on the big screen Alan Turing 23 June, 1912 7 June, 1954Proximate Cause Goodness of FitI m not too proud to admit that the impetus for my picking up this biography was a trailer for the upcoming film on Alan Turing and his involvement with cracking the Enigma code during WWII The Imitation Game However, if you are interested exclusively or even primarily in the cryptanalytic exploits of Turing et al at Bletchley Park then this is probably not repeat not the Turing book for you Alan Turing 23 June, 1912 7 June, 1954Proximate Cause Goodness of FitI m not too proud to admit that the impetus for my picking up this biography was a trailer for the upcoming film on Alan Turing and his involvement with cracking the Enigma code during WWII The Imitation Game However, if you are interested exclusively or even primarily in the cryptanalytic exploits of Turing et al at Bletchley Park then this is probably not repeat not the Turing book for you While Andrew Hodges thoroughly covers Turing s activities during the Second World War, this is just one piece of the whole As one might expect of a book with an introduction by Douglas Hofstadter, it is an examination of both function and form Alan s experiences were what they were because of who he was, and, in turn, these experiences made him into the man, the enigma he became The Young Turing MachineAndrew Hodges, and Henrik Olesen, the artist behind Some Illustrations to the Life of Alan Turing, both depict the young Alan Turing as a child inquisitive, and bright beyond his years Alan, even in his earliest years, exhibited what Hodges refers to as a desert island mentality If Alan had a problem, he relied on his own ingenuity to find an answer e.g inventing a machine to count gear revolutions and make adjustments as needed for his broken bicycle chain The young genius mind, however, outside of a vacuum, does not necessarily coalesce easily with the world around it This was certainly true of Alan s early experiences in the English public school environment Alan was what some might refer to as extremely pick on able Thus, when he received a copy of Edwin Tenney Brewster s Natural Wonders Every Child Should Know on behalf of an unnamed benefactor in 1922, Alan was undoubtedly relieved to be able to escape into a world of science, numbers and natural order Brewster portrayed the human body as a machine one with duties, tasks, functions, and, perhapsimportantly, one that could be understood through the faculties of reason Obedience to Authority The Imitation GameIn 1926, at the age of 13, Alan left, below was sent to the Sherborne School With an emphasis good citizenship, and the individual s duty to fit into the system of their small society for the greater good none of which included becoming a man of science , Sherborne was not a good fit for Alan However, things began to turn around for Alan in 1928, when he met Christopher Morcom Morcom, one year ahead of Alan at Sherburn and a member of a different house, shared Alan s passion for science, maths, and exploration of the natural world Unlike Alan, however, Morcom was able to integrate these interests with scholastic success The letters between Alan and Christopher during vacations from Sherborne are filled with an excited energy that comes with having someone with whom to share new discoveries Christopher was both Alan s mentor and, as portrayed by Hodges, his first love It s not clear whether this intimacy between the two was physical in nature, but the magnitude of Christopher s place in Alan s heart was made acutely and painfully clear when Christopher died suddenly of bovine tuberculosis in 1930 The letters between Christopher Morcom s mother and Alan a correspondence that continued for many years reflect their shared grief in losing Christopher The experience changed Alan in many ways, including a renewed dedication to honoring Christopher s memory by pursuing the interests they had shared which, despite their youth, had included quantum physics, and Einstein s Relativity The Special and the General Theory An Ordinary English Homosexual Atheist MathematicianThough, unlike Christopher, Alan did not win a scholarship to his first choice, Trinity, he was admitted and matriculated to King s College, Cambridge in 1931 Though Alan remained secluded at King s, he was well suited to its norms In addition to the academic caliber of his professors and classmates, it was a socially and politically liberal environment and it was in this context, that Alan became somewhat matter of factly open in his homosexuality Not knowing much about Cambridge or really any university in the 1940s, I was not clear as to whether Hodges references to the life of an ordinary english homosexual were made in jest However, though Hodges is clear that this was not an easy life, it seems that it was much easier in the context of King s College Decidability, Computability the EntscheidungsproblemIt is because of my own descriptive shortcomings that I won t be saying much about the content of the foundational problems and paradoxes in math and logic being asked and addressed by Turing and his contemporaries in the 1920s and 1930s Suffice it to say that if you re operating under the impression that any system of mathematical logic can be complete, consistent and decidable, you might want to take a gander at some of Kurt G del s early work, and Turing s On Computable Numbers though some might direct you toward the papers of Alonzo Church Before you say, well who cares Let it be known that the very notion of computability in a time when what was meant by computer is akin to what we think of as a writer one doing the writing one doing the computing was new Further, this was the point at which Turing made a huge leap in the conceptual connection between abstract symbols and the physical world Like Schr dinger s cat, the Universal Turing Machine was a thought experiment, the elegance of which lies in its simplicity Turing s conception based on the idea of a typewriter is that there is a machine that has a tape , which is divided into squares Each square can bear a symbol At a any given moment, one square is in the machine, this is the scanned square, and it bears the scanned symbol Doesn t sound like much, I know, but here s the thing the state of the machine with its finite table of actions can be determined by a singly expression using the symbols which can be limited to two and there s recursion It makessense if you read it from the experts To Oz and BackIt s the mid 1930s at this point, and Princeton is a pretty happening place Turing, offered a fellowship there, crossed the pond to work with John von Neumann who Hodges likens to the Wizard of Oz Things just didn t work out as planned Princeton was the height of wealth and aristocratic excess from Turing s point of view, and Turing was proving again the difference between having brilliant ideas and impressing them on the world However, Turing did have a good time at Princeton when taking part in treasure hunts consisting of series of encrypted clues So, when Turing turned down a position at Princeton, and went back to Cambridge in 1938, his experiences stateside came in handy The Enigma Bletchley ParkPrior to Britain s declaration of war, Alan Turing was surprisingly the first and only mathematician recruited to work at the super secret Government Code and Cypher School GCCS , and later moved to the cryptanalytic HQ at Bletchley Park Alan, who had long dreamed of a chess playing machine, suddenly had a practical problem for his obsession Before the war my work was in logic and my hobby was cryptanalysis, and now it is the other way round How so Well, von Neumann s theory of minimax strategies the application of probabilities to any game between two players such that one chooses the least bad option one of making decisions in the absence of perfect information, had direct applications in strategic combat And, of course there was decryption of Enigma messages to be done Alan s ability and desire to bridge the gap between mathematics and engineering was, for the first time, seen by others as an asset Turing s thought experiments were being translated into actual electronic machinery the Bombe below , and the Colossus To be clear, it was the Bombe that was used to crack the Enigma However, the Colossus was the first computer that approached Turing s conception of universality in that it was programmable Many of those working at Bletchley were Wrens seen below with the Colossus , members of the Women s Royal Naval Service For Turing this was his first contact with women, including Joan Clarke The two were briefly engaged, but this was broken off in 1941 when Turing informed Clarke of his homosexuality The Heart in ExileTuring had been affordedfreedom during the war than he, perhaps, realized at the time At the National Physical Laboratory NPL Turing completed the design for an Automatic Computing Engine ACE , but in the face of bureaucracy and departmental divisiveness, he had almost no control over its engineering and construction Alan Turing might be Valiant for Truth, but even he had been led into the work of deception by science, and by sex into lying to the police Outside of the cloistered world of Cambridge, England was not exactly gay friendly didn t Oscar Wilde get hard labor for that In exile in Manchester, our ordinary English homosexual atheist, when burgled by the friends of a young man he brought home, reported the larceny to the police However, by engaging in such sexual perversion, Turing had placed himself outside of the protection of the law Turing was sentenced not to prison, but chemical castration by estrogen injections America was no better just ask Lou Reed his parents sent him for electroshock therapy, and that was for bisexuality Having decided that homosexuals presented a security risk, Turing was banned from the United States as a whole In a twisted, endless loop, intolerance for homosexuality put any homosexual at risk for blackmail, which, in turn, made homosexuals a security risk, thereby increasing the intolerance with which we began On June 8th, 1954 Alan Turing was found dead in his home, lying in his bed The identified the cause as cyanide poisoning, and the post mortem inquest easily ruled it a suicide In his house they found a jar of potassium cyanide, and a jam jar of cyanide solution Next to his bed was a half eaten apple For those of you who, like myself, live west of the Atlantic, public school in Britain is pretty much the opposite of what it means here basically, it s the equivalent of the American private boarding schoolalthough most of us don t spend 15 years there Let me introduce you to Alan He is a quiet and shy man, but one who mainly gets along with his colleagues He is determined to tackle large questions and finds that his understanding of mathematics and logic can be applied to aspects of the universe around him, especially in areas that people would deem too messy and without any logic He is a great proponent of going back to first principles when approaching problems also.This book has been on my radar for years now I found it after one of th Let me introduce you to Alan He is a quiet and shy man, but one who mainly gets along with his colleagues He is determined to tackle large questions and finds that his understanding of mathematics and logic can be applied to aspects of the universe around him, especially in areas that people would deem too messy and without any logic He is a great proponent of going back to first principles when approaching problems also.This book has been on my radar for years now I found it after one of those tipping points where you finally hit the nth reference to a person or idea and you find your ignorance about it embarrassing By the way I find that these instances only increase with theyou act upon them Ignorance really is bliss Anyway, along comes the film starring Sherlock himself and I found myself highly entertained by the story and wanting to knowSo it was time to tackle this volume and I chose to tackle it by audiobook.Firstly I want to cover the book and it s difference to the movie, because looking at the words on the print cover, The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game , it leads you to a sense that a biopic from a biography should be fairly accurate It seems that the movie took a lot of liberties and while there were not many huge outright lies, there were plenty of distortions, simplifications and exaggerations There is a little part of me that is offended, but there is another larger part of me that is not surprised Alan Turing was not a stereotypical genius nerd in a world that did not appreciate him He did have a huge battle to overcome adversity due to his work being outlandish and misunderstood It seems like Hollywood latches onto the Beautiful Mind Sheldon Cooper cookie cutter a little too much I feel that I should also say that I did enjoy the movie As far as movies go it was entertaining and also a bit educational But I guess going into this book I expected a bitcontinuity Cumberbatch s Turing is not Hodge s biography Turing.Hodge s biography offers a traditional chronological look at Turing s life, from a short section on his lineage to his cremation on the last page But there is a lotin here than what you would bargain for Turing s work and the work leading up it is is explained in great detail Using the term in depth may be a gross under exaggeration There is also a large section focused upon the laws concerning perversion at the time, which Turing was convicted for If you were to remove the sections concerning math, engineering and law you ll find a book that weighs only a small percentage of the original I guess what I am trying to say is that this book is not for the layman I can only imagine that there will be a lot of copies of this book abandoned on planes, trains and bookshelves because a fan of the movie picked this book up wanting to know , just like I did The large sections on mathematical logic I did follow the gist of somewhat, helped along by my greater understanding of maths than the average person Large sections of this book would only be completely understandable by people with degrees in mathematics I chosemathematics subjects in my science degree than the norm, so I have some sense of what is going on in these passages I pity anyone trying to make it through without some knowledge of this type of maths If you are a person who hates info dumps you are going to loathe this book.But on the positive side, this was the right book at the right time for the right person I have often found that there is no better way to learn about a person than to find the highest rated biography of that person on Goodreads that is at least 500 pages long I have been stung with too many shorter biographies that leave me unsatisfied and finding outinformation on the person s Wikipedia page I wanted to knowabout Turing and my god I found out a whole lot.Of course it s not all about volume Both the writer and narrator kept me entertained for just over 30 hours The writer was sympathetic to his subject and yet portrayed his great failings also I really do feel that I met a person who I can call a hero I hate that word and I am sure that there is a far greater compliment Turing had great determination, a high regard for the truth in his work and personal life, and a scientific approach to everything he undertook He may be known as being a mathematician, but he was an even greater scientist who straddled fields in a time when fields were clearly defined He often found that there was no perfect audience for his papers and that some fields would only appreciate some aspects, while other parts would not be understood at all He was converging the sciences with mathematics.So despite all the negatives that I noted earlier, for me not only a book to be treasured, but an introduction to a man that is greatly misunderstood and hugely under appreciated I want a portrait of him up on my wall alongside my Darwin portrait I am going to get my hands on some of his writing and try to get my head aroundof the maths This was a fascinating book I m not really recommending it because I thought it was overly complicated and I m not sure that a lot of people will want to spend half of their reading time on Wikipedia the way I did I only understood about a quarter of the many, many mathematical concepts that were discussed, at exhausting length, in the book Still, I m glad to knowabout the man who contributed so much to computer science He had a fascinating, tragic life Great book, but be prepared for This was a fascinating book I m not really recommending it because I thought it was overly complicated and I m not sure that a lot of people will want to spend half of their reading time on Wikipedia the way I did I only understood about a quarter of the many, many mathematical concepts that were discussed, at exhausting length, in the book Still, I m glad to knowabout the man who contributed so much to computer science He had a fascinating, tragic life Great book, but be prepared for some headaches