Alan Turing was a highly gifted mathematician and cryptographer whose contributions dramatically changed the fields of mathematics and computer science. He was a prominent figure, most well-known for solving the German Enigma codes during World War II, which dramatically altered the events of the war. Before that, however, Turing had already established himself as a gifted mathematician. Alan Turing and his friend Alonzo Church, worked together to solve the Entscheidungsproblem (also known as the “Decision Problem”), a problem brought up by the mathematician David Hilbert in 1928. Turing was known for solving the Entscheidungsproblem, which was a problem that asked whether there was a process which could differentiate between mathematical rights and wrongs.This one problem was one which was said to be one of the most important questions in mathematics.
The Decision Problem, introduced previously by mathematician David Hilbert in 1928, captivated Turing’s interest while he was still attending King’s University in Cambridge. Turing and Church developed the “Turing-Church” Thesis in response to the question, and said that the algorithm for which the question is asking does not exist. Turing’s work at the Government Code and Cipher School, a secret British organization at Bletchley Park, shortened the war by almost two years, and potentially saved hundreds of thousands of peoples’ lives. Germany had a complex Enigma machine, which sent codes from the Navy.
The newly devised codes which were assigned to Turing were vastly more complex than the ones the Polish had solved before. Before Alan Turing made the complicated, sophisticated machine, the workers working at the Cipher School to crack codes had to do it manually, and this took a lot of time and effort. Turing ended up deciding to build a machine which would change the way the code solving process was done. This was called the Bombe, which sorted through the 10^114 possible mathematical permutations. Alan Turing’s math ability led him to create a electrochemical machine which helped to sort through the combinations of code to see all Enigma messages. Turing’s contributions in mathematics overlapped with and contributed to his contributions in computer science, and he is often known as the “father of modern computer science”. His publishing of a paper called “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem,” while he was still going through a Ph.
D. program at Princeton became a machine which evolved into the modern day computer. Alan Turing contributed heavily to the modern computer age, and his contributions and their importance cannot be stated enough.
Alan Turing was truly an exceptional and remarkable mathematician, and all which he has done for mathematics and computer science and cryptography will be celebrated for many years to come.