Alan Turing

Alan Turing : The Enigma

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It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades - all before his strange and tragic suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges' acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life. Hodges tells how Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936 - the concept of a universal machine - laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing's leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic.
At the same time, this is the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program - all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 616 pages
  • 127 x 195.58 x 45.72mm | 589.67g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Centenary Ed.
  • 26 halftones. 20 line illus.
  • 069115564X
  • 9780691155647
  • 247,484

Review quote

"One of the finest scientific biographies ever written."--Jim Holt, New Yorker "Andrew Hodges' 1983 book Alan Turing: The Enigma, is the indispensable guide to Turing's life and work and one of the finest biographies of a scientific genius ever written."--Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times "Turing's rehabilitation from over a quarter-century's embarrassed silence was largely the result of Andrew Hodges's superb biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983; reissued with a new introduction in 2012). Hodges examined available primary sources and interviewed surviving witnesses to elucidate Turing's multiple dimensions. A mathematician, Hodges ably explained Turing's intellectual accomplishments with insight, and situated them within their wider historical contexts. He also empathetically explored the centrality of Turing's sexual identity to his thought and life in a persuasive rather than reductive way ..."--Michael Saler, Times Literary Supplement "On the face of it, a richly detailed 500-page biography of a mathematical genius and analysis of his ideas, might seem a daunting proposition. But fellow mathematician and author Hodges has acutely clear and often extremely moving insight into the humanity behind the leaping genius that helped to crack the Germans' Enigma codes during World War II and bring about the dawn of the computer age... This melancholy story is transfigured into something else: an exploration of the relationship between machines and the soul and a full-throated celebration of Turing's brilliance, unselfconscious quirkiness and bravery in a hostile age."--Sinclair McKay, Wall Street Journal "A first-class contribution to history and an exemplary work of biography."--I. J. Good, Nature "An almost perfect match of biographer and subject... [A] great book."--Ray Monk, Guardian "A superb biography... Written by a mathematician, it describes in plain language Turing's work on the foundations of computer science and how he broke the Germans' Enigma code in the Second World War. The subtle depiction of class rivalries, personal relationships, and Turing's tragic end are worthy of a novel. But this was a real person. Hodges describes the man, and the science that fascinated him--which once saved, and still influences, our lives."--Margaret Boden, New Scientist "Andrew Hodges's magisterial Alan Turing: The Enigma ... is still the definitive text."--Joshua Cohen, Harper's "Andrew Hodges's biography is a meticulously researched and written account detailing every aspect of Turing's life... This account of Turing's life is a definitive scholarly work, rich in primary source documentation and small-grained historical detail."--Mathematics Teacher "The Bible of Turing biography."--Alvy Ray Smith, Notices of the AMS
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About Andrew Hodges

Andrew Hodges teaches mathematics at Wadham College, University of Oxford. A colleague of Roger Penrose, he is also an active contributor to the mathematics of fundamental physics.
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Back cover copy

"One of the finest scientific biographies I've ever read: authoritative, superbly researched, deeply sympathetic, and beautifully told."--Sylvia Nasar, author of "A Beautiful Mind""A captivating, compassionate portrait of a first-rate scientist who gave so much to a world that in the end cruelly rejected him. Perceptive and absorbing, Andrew Hodges's book is scientific biography at its best."--Paul Hoffman, author of T"he Man Who Loved Only Numbers""A remarkable and admirable biography."--Simon Singh, author of "The Code Book and Fermat's Enigma""A first-rate presentation of the life of a first-rate scientific mind.... It is hard to imagine a more thoughtful and compassionate portrait of a human being."--from the Foreword by Douglas Hofstadter
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Table of contents

List of Plates ix Foreword by Douglas Hofstadter xi Preface to the 2012 Centenary edition xv PART ONE: THE LOGICAL 1 Esprit de Corps to 13 February 1930 1 2 The Spirit of Truth to 14 April 1936 46 3 New Men to 3 September 1939 111 4 The Relay Race to 10 November 1942 160 BRIDGE PASSAGE to 1 April 1943 242 PART TWO: THE PHYSICAL 5 Running Up to 2 September 1945 259 6 Mercury Delayed to 2 October 1948 314 7 The Greenwood Tree to 7 February 1952 390 8 On the Beach to 7 June 1954 456 Postscript 529 Author's Note 530 Notes 541 Acknowledgements 569 Index 570
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Rating details

5,901 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 26% (1,519)
4 39% (2,320)
3 25% (1,475)
2 7% (420)
1 3% (167)
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