Turing symposium to mark codebreaker’s centenary


TO MARK the centenary of British code-breaker, mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing’s birth, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh will be holding a research symposium later this month.

Regarded by many as the father of modern computing, Alan Turing is widely considered to be one of the most influential Britons of the twentieth century. This one-day event will both celebrate his achievements and reflect on the impact of his work on modern day society.

Picking up on four of the key themes of Turing’s work, the symposium will bring together distinguished speakers and cutting-edge researchers to consider Turing’s legacy, and to highlight on-going research initiatives that continue to be inspired and influenced by his work.

Turing worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during the war

The themes include artificial intelligence, algorithms, modelling the brain, and morphogenesis, the latter looking at Turing’s predictions on the chemical basis for evolutionary development in living things (how the zebra got its stripes).

The international cast of speakers will include Professor David Harel, of the Weizman Institute, Israel; Professor Steve Furber, Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Manchester; Professor Barbara Grosz of Harvard University, known for her seminal contributions to the fields of natural-language processing and multi-agent systems; and Professor Philip Maini, Director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Oxford.

Researchers who will present their latest projects that build on Turing’s thinking include Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn ( University of Hertfordshire ) who will discuss her work on human-robot interaction and robot-assisted therapy for children with autism; and Professor Maja Pantic (Imperial College London) who will discuss advances in human-centred computing.

Professor Jane Hillston FRSE, chair of the organising committee, commented, “Turing had a profound impact on computing today, both as an academic discipline and the myriad of practical realisations of computing that we make use of in our daily lives.  It is a great to have the opportunity to reflect on his many achievements and consider what problems Turing might be working on if he were still with us.”

The Turing Research Symposium, and a lecture to be given by Jim Al-Khalili OBE at the Informatics Forum on the evening of 10 May, are part of a wide range of events that are being held across the world, from China to the USA to New Zealand , to celebrate Alan Turing’s life, work, and legacy. In the UK these will include a major conference in Manchester , examining Turing’s mathematical and code-breaking achievements, and a Turing Centenary Conference in Cambridge , both to be held in June.

The events in Edinburgh are being organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh , with support from Cambridge University Press, SICSA and Springer.


More information on the symposium can be found at www.t100.org.uk. Places can be booked through the RSE events team www.royalsoced.org.uk.

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