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The First Hacker January 19, 2008

Posted by razasayed in general.
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Alan Turing I propose to consider the question “Can machines think? “ – Alan Mathison Turing

I am a big fan of Alan Turing , the British mathematician famous for his work on the Entscheidungs problem put forth by Kurt Godel and creating the Enigma machine for breaking German war codes during World War II.

Turing was a genius far ahead of his time, and his mathematical work laid the foundation for modern digital computers. Because of his formalisation of the word ‘algorithm’ and ‘computation’ using a theoretical concept known as the ‘Turing Machine’ he is often called the father of computer science. His work has far reaching implications for the field of Artificial Intelligence.

The ‘Turing Machine’ which is a mathematical concept led to the development of computers as we know them today.Its really amazing to realise that something as concrete and physical as a computer has its roots in an abstract mathematical concept called a ‘Turing Machine’ , thanks to the genius of Alan Turing.

He also devised a way of figuring out whether or not a computer program claiming to possess intelligence is really intelligent or not. This test is named after him and is called the ‘Turing Test’ . Its interesting to know that each year a contest is held in the United States , known as the ‘Loebner Contest‘ which aims at rewarding a grand prize of $100,000 and a gold medal for the first computer that passes the Turing Test, but till date since the contest was announced in 1990 , no computer has ever managed to pass the Turing Test !.

There is already a lot of literature available online regarding the life and work of this Cambridge genius , and here are a couple of interesting links i came across that i would like to share with you :

1. Check out a cool article called ‘The First Hacker and his Imaginary Machine’ located at http://www.rheingold.com/texts/tft/3.html

2. If you want to play with a Turing Machine, then check out :


Alright then , till the next post,

Adios Amigo 🙂