Talk:Alan Turing

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Good article Alan Turing has been listed as one of the Mathematics good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
High traffic

On June 23, 2012, Alan Turing was linked from Google, a high-traffic website. (See visitor traffic)

The father of computer science and artificial intelligence?[edit]

Well, I think I'll dare to say that this is a common thought that is not actually true... To disarm this fallacy, we have to talk about Mr. Leonardo Torres Quevedo, a Spanish engineer of the late 19th century and early 20th century. If we read and study about his theoretical contributions and inventions, we'll see that he wrote the first essay on automation when that word didn't even exist, in the decade of 1910. He built various algebraic computing machines, solving with them math problems that were unsolvable till then. As an example of automata, we have his "Ajedrecista", a mechanical machine that can play chess and give check mate to a king with a tower and a king. He indeed built the first computer in history, the "Aritmómetro Electromecánico" (Electromechanical Arithmometer). This machine used a typewriter as an input/output device and could be programmed to make calculations. For more information, you can read his writing or make a research on the internet (most of the info about him is in spanish and french). He was also prolific in many other engineering fields but this is not the issue here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:20, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Alan Turing's "a-machine" is a mathematical model that can emulate a universal machine on which the correctness, practicality, and many other properties of algorithms can be evaluated. The same thing cannot be said about -any- earlier model. I'm sure you can find many many mathematicians before Alan Turing trying to achieve what he achieved, and they are all respectable as mathematicians (no doubt in that). Alan Turing and John von Neumann are the ones who -directly- influenced the technology we are using today. You and I surely are not in a position to debate over who is/was or is/was not most influential in the computer science and mathematics... leave the debate to computer scientists and mathematicians. I'm guessing you are Hispanic/Latino, hence your bias toward this particular Spanish engineer. A discussion about science should not be ethnically-charged. (talk) 07:53, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
After the fact, one can point to many preceding designs or devices that could be considered predecessors. For example, the devices of Napier, Pascal, Liebniz, and especially Charles Babbage. And theoretical work going back to Aristotle, probably.
But most of that didn't lead to anything. Turing's work did. He developed actual, working computing devices, he met with many of the pioneers of computer hardware, like Zuse, Flowers, Atanasoff, and von Neumann, and his design papers were very influential on others. So he is called the 'Father' (not the First). Just like Columbus is called the 'Discoverer of America', though others (Vikings, for example) reached it first -- his voyages led to the subsequent communication, trade, and emigration to America, so he gets credited as 'Discoverer'. T-bonham (talk) 09:26, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
Wait, what? Meet me here for a discussion. To give a taste of my argument: Wasn't he the first European of the time to discover America and lead others there? Besides, he thought he was in India. At least the Vikings didn't claim it was something other than what it was! James Woodward (talk) 23:45, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Requested Edit[edit]

Is it possible that this photo:,_as_an_early_part_of_the_flowers_for_Turing_Project..jpg might be added to the page? I took the photo (and wrote the page at giving the circumstances... ) so It would be a bit of a COI if I put it in... I think it is a nice illustration of the place that Turing holds in people's hearts so many years later..

(Tried making this request on the memorial page but it looks like there isn't much traffic on that talk page...)


I have put the photo on the memorial page, as there are already a couple of the statue here. Southdevonian (talk) 22:30, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Lovely sentiment and thanks for taking the high road with the COI. I don't think the picture quite fits, as the explanation for the flowers would probably cross into WP:UNDUE. If the tradition continues and there is some media coverage, then I think we can reconsider. Thanks for the contribution, though—I enjoyed reading the "flowers for turing" piece. Garamond Lethet
07:16, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Did Turing have Schizophrenia?[edit]

I had thought that it was quite well known or 'widely believed' that Alan Turing had suffered from some kind of mild schizophrenia, but on looking through this article and even the talk page and its archives I can find no mention of it anywhere. I have also hunted on Google briefly and didn't get very far. Am I chasing down some spurious reference in a old documentary or is this a piece of history that has been 'revised' in the name of political correctness?
Anyone with any info?, I had thought this was an important part of his life and was once cited as a potential reason for his suicide. Maybe someone has made the mistake of conflating schizophrenia = mental illness with homosexuality = mental illness - the two were definitely not the same thing. Lucien86 (talk) 06:41, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

In the biographies I've read, this was never mentioned or hinted at. If it's a conspiracy, they're making a really good job. Maybe that was temporary hypotheses, that didn't have much support behind it and was abandoned? If you can find some information we could include some mention of it in the article, as this biography is not a BLP. Diego (talk) 09:51, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
There is some evidence (although I don't have a source to hand) that Turing showed some evidence of Asperger syndrome. Might this be the cause of this confusion? --TedColes (talk) 18:13, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Ted, your link says that Asperger started describing this disease in 1944, and that is was re-discovered in 1981. Would be great if you have a contemporary source. -DePiep (talk) 18:17, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
See Asperger syndrome article. --TedColes (talk) 18:21, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, is where I got the years from. It started with children in 1944. -DePiep (talk) 18:27, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with a retrospective diagnosis. --TedColes (talk) 19:15, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Unless it jumps from Asperger's to schizophrenia, of course... Martinevans123 (talk) 11:28, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

Turing baronets[edit]

Alan Turing is the uncle of the present twelfth Turing baronet, Sir (John) Dermot Turing. Alan was the brother of the eleventh baron, Sir John Leslie Turing, Dermot's father.[ref:] The article is rather vague about Turing's aristocratic background, saying the family 'included a baronet'. Wouldn't it be better to state his close relationship to the baronetcy more clearly? ie Turing was from a posher immediate background, rather than having some third uncle ten times removed who was a baronet? (talk) 11:04, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

The twelfth baronet is indeed Alan Turing's nephew. However he did not inherit the baronetcy from his father (Alan's brother). He inherited it from his third cousin once removed, Sir John Leslie Turing, 11th baronet. (Alan's brother was John Ferrier Turing, not John Leslie Turing.) So Alan had third cousins who were baronets. Many people don't know their third cousins, and I am not aware that the Turing baronets played any role in Alan Turing's life. The twelfth baronet was not even born when Alan Turing died, and did not become a baronet until 1987. Southdevonian (talk) 20:58, 29 December 2013 (UTC)


The article says that his passport was never revoked. Why should it be? Although this is common practice in the US, my understanding is that passports are never revoked in the UK, although there may be temporary requests to surrender a passport as a condition of bail or similar Jimfbleak - talk to me? 06:47, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that sentence has always puzzled me. The bit about his passport could probably just disappear. Not mentioning it is the same as saying nothing happened involving it, and doesn't lead to "What the..." questions? HiLo48 (talk) 07:03, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I've removed that sentence. In the US, passports are the property of the state which will remove them as it seems fit. In the UK they are individual property and cannot be removed from citizens for political reasons. I guess that the editor or the author of the source confused these policies. I think the bit about him being free to visit Europe is stating the obvious and is the same mould, but one step at a time. Jimfbleak - talk to me? 08:01, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Note: Surrender of passport is usually a procedure considered before a trial, not after. Where a defendant is remanded on bail, there are two types of bail:
  • Unconditional - where the defendant is told to return to Court on a specific date for the next hearing
  • Conditional - where the defendant is told to return to court on a specific date but with conditions set by the Magistrates to ensure their attendance (e.g: surrender of passport).
But the paragraph here is obviously talking about what happened after his conviction, so it seems quite irrelevant. Or has the law on indecency (specifically after conviction) changed in the past 61 years? Martinevans123 (talk) 11:20, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
As I say, it looks like confusion with US practice, where people like Paul Robeson were denied passports on political grounds, even when no offence had been committed Jimfbleak - talk to me? 11:34, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes. But I suppose the considerations here (if there were any) were to do with "national security" rather than "political". Martinevans123 (talk) 11:58, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Private member's bill[edit]

The lead paragraph went into quite a lot of detail about the process of pardoning Turing, and this is not what the lead is for. That level of detail belongs in the relevant section of the article. I have edited it down a bit. Richard75 (talk) 13:34, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Turing and Telepathy[edit]

In his essay on artificial intelligence where he posits the famous Turing test (I don't have it to hand, but I'm sure of this) Turing affirms his belief in telepathy. Can we put this in in the passage about his religious/nonreligious beliefs and views on life after death? I don't want to do it now as I don't have the source for reference, but anyone who does can check that I'm right. (talk) 20:38, 18 May 2014 (UTC)

Alan Mathison Turing Esq OBE[edit]

"Turing would go on to be honoured by the British state. In a supplement dated Tuesday 18 June 1946, Gazette number 37617 reports that Alan Mathison Turing Esq ‘employed in a Department of the Foreign Office’ is to be promoted to become an officer of the civil division of the British Empire."
issue 37617, page 3124 of the London Gazette

Xb2u7Zjzc32 (talk) 22:42, 16 June 2014 (UTC)