August 10, 2019
It might be true that few of us have the luxury or opportunity to handle a £50 note, let alone have a wallet bulging with them! But it is just great to see that Alan Turing is at last getting recognised for the significant contribution he made to the UK. Obviously for his revolutionary code breaking skill (who knows where we would all be, if that had not been successful), but also for everything he developed and created in the advent of the computing industry.
This is a reflection on his brilliancy and a great example of not forgetting where many great ideas start from. It would not surprise us if some of his ideas continue to be re-visited even now, as IT technology evolves. So no wonder that the new £50 note will have a picture of Turing, but also feature a table and formulae from his 1936 paper with a rather catchy title of ‘On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem’. This introduced the concept of the so-called Turing machine as a future operable computer; the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) pilot. It was developed at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington as a trial model for an electronic stored-program digital computer. And we particularly like that the note is going to feature a quote given by Turing in a 1949 Times interview, “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
His life and character is summed up brilliantly by Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor;
“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today. As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as a war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”
So if you have not visited Bletchley Park which is based near Milton Keynes it is well worth a visit. The home of the code breakers takes every visitor, young and old, on a wonderful journey through what was involved and how Turing was so influential.
At Turncloud we suspect we are involved in something every day that stems from some of the ideas that Turing explored. So, let’s pay tribute and on principle we might just seek out one of those elusive £50 notes, just to take a look!