Turing to be honoured on the 50 pound note

I wrote this about Alan Turing In 2012:

It would be an understatement to say that Turing achieved much in his 42 years. He contributed to a fundamental problem in mathematics, in the process becoming the father of computer science prior to the existence of general purpose computing machines. He played a pivotal role in the Second World War as a Bletchley Park cryptanalyst for which he was awarded an OBE, wrote a seminal paper on the modelling of biological growth, worked on pioneering computer projects, and founded the field of Artificial Intelligence.

But Turing tragically committed suicide at the age of 41 after appalling treatment resulting from the charge of “gross indecency” for the “crime” of being a gay man in mid-20th century Britain. I went on to say:

In response to an online petition in the lead-up to the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth, the British PM, Gordon Brown, said in 2009: “Turing was dealt with under the laws of the time, and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was utterly unfair. On behalf of the British government and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work, I am very proud to say: we’re sorry. You deserved so much better.”

It was recently announced that Alan Turing will be honoured by appearing on the 50 pound note starting in 2021.


Source: ABC (https://www.abc.net.au/news/image/11312384-4×3-940×705.jpg)

This Australian Computer Society article provides, among other things, details about the bank note design.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Alan Perlis, a recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Turing Award, said this in 1966:

On what does and will the fame of Turing rest? That he proved a theorem showing that for a general computing device — later dubbed a “Turing Machine” — there existed functions which it could not compute? I doubt it. More likely it rests on the model he invented and employed: his formal mechanism. This model has captured the imagination and mobilized the thoughts of a generation of scientists.

Alan Turing played an unmistakable role in creating the world we all now take for granted. So too for my chosen profession.

It’s nice to see him being recognised in this way even if belatedly so.

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