Friday, November 23, 2012

Free talk on Alan Turing in the Zoology Museum

From Matthew Jarron, Curator of Museum Services and Cathy Caudwell, Zoology Curator, at the University of Dundee :

A forthcoming special event at the D‘Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum in the Carnelley Building, University of Dundee will celebrate the recent centenary of the birth of mathematical genius Alan Turing. 

Prof Mark Chaplain (Head of Mathematics at the University) will give a talk entitled ‘Alan Turing: much more than an Enigma’ in the museum on Tuesday 27th November at 5.30pm. 

Turing is perhaps best known for his work during World War II at Bletchley Park, where he helped break the "Enigma" code used by the Germans. Even if this had been his only mathematical achievement, it would have been a major contribution to mathematics and computer science. However, his many contributions are much more wide-ranging than this and span a broad range of mathematical disciplines. For example, he was highly influential in the development of computer science, giving a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. As such, Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.

Mark’s talk will also focus on the influence of D’Arcy Thompson on Turing’s work. Inspired by the famous Dundee professor, Turing wrote a seminal paper proposing a theory of pattern formation in biology which is now used widely today with applications to animal coat markings, plant phyllotaxis, shell patterning and cancer growth. 

The free talk will survey Turing's scientific career and show that he was indeed much more than an enigma.