Category Archives: communications intelligence

Alan Turing’s Birthday

Thanks to the movie The Imitation Game, Alan Turing (June 23, 1912-June 7, 1954) is probably better known today than any time in history. A mathematician trained at King’s College, Cambridge, England, he was fascinated with the concept of formal proofs in mathematics, and formulated the concept of hypothetical devices that could solve any computational tasks. These hypothetical devices are now called “Turing machines” in recognition of his work. John Von Neumann, widely considered the founder of modern computational science, used Turing’s work as the theoretical foundation of his own.

Alan Turning Memorial
The Alan Turing Memorial is in Sackville Park, Manchester, England. It was unveiled on June 23, 2001. Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.

Each year, on Turing’s birthday, admirers bring flowers to the Turing Memorial in Sackville Park, Manchester, England. The park is near the Engineering and Physical Sciences Faculty Office of Manchester University.

These flowers are "From Moscow High School No. 179" and "From a Computer Scientist at Indiana University, Bloomington."
These flowers are “From Moscow High School No. 179” and “From a Computer Scientist at Indiana University, Bloomington.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.

During World War II, Turing and other mathematicians were involved in a highly secret project to break German military codes at Bletchley Park, a mansion and grounds northwest of London. While The Imitation Game implies that Turing essentially hand-built a machine to break German codes, Turing’s contributions were not those of an electrical engineer but of the theorist behind the statistical analysis used to automate code breaking. His approach to breaking a problem into parts and then putting them together into a solution is the foundation of modern computer programming.

These are "From staff and students at the University of Bath" and "From Paul Heideman."
These are “From staff and students at the University of Bath” and “From Paul Heideman.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.
These flowers are "From a Member of the School of Computing at the University of Leeds" and "From Andy Longhurst."
These flowers are “From a Member of the School of Computing at the University of Leeds” and “From Andy Longhurst.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.
"From a Computer Scientist in Seattle, USA."
“From a Computer Scientist in Seattle, USA.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.
"From a staff member at Oxford University Press."
“From a staff member at Oxford University Press.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.
"From a staff member at the University of Aberdeen, Computer Science Department."
“From a staff member at the University of Aberdeen, Computer Science Department.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.
"From Someone Alive Because of your Work" and "From a Member of Exter University, Computer Science Dept."
“From Someone Alive Because of your Work” and “From a Member of Exter University, Computer Science Dept.” Photo by Lykara I. Ryder.

A blog organized a Flowers for Turning 2015 event, and listed a Roll of Honour of those who made donations.

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Codes, cyphers and the National Cryptologic Museum

Located at the edge of Fort Meade, Maryland, in an old, nondescript motel, is the National Cryptologic Museum. Admission is free, and with that admission you can explore how the worlds of communications, mathematics, and security intersect in cryptology.

Photos from the National Cryptologic Museum.

Rosetta Stone
Outside the National Cryptologic Museum gift store is this replica of the Rosetta Stone. Created around 196 BC, it displays a decree from an Egyptian king, written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and ancient Greek. Discovered by a French soldier during France’s invasion of Egypt in 1799, it provided the key to unlocking Egyptian hieroglyphs, much as modern code breakers look for keys in breaking coded texts. The real Rosetta Stone is on display at the British Museum in London.