
Turing: The Father Of Computer Science
Alan Turing is considered by many to be the father of Computer
Science. Turing was an English mathematician who started his
career as a logician. He was the originator, in the 1930s, of the
"Turing machine", an important model of a general purpose
computer, one which he and others have used extensively in proving
fundamental limits and behaviors of all computers. He was one of the
original explorers of the concept of "a universal machine", that is, a
computer that could compute, in principle, anything that any other
computer could compute.
Not Everything Can Be Solved On A Computer
Perhaps Turing's most important contribution was his statement of
and proof of the Halting Problem which showed that there are
some easily stated, unambiguous, easily formalized problems that
are impossible for any computer, ever, to successfully solve. For
example, it is impossible to write a program that can read as input
any other program X, along with X's input, and in every case
indicate whether program X will terminate successfully. This
"negative" result is entirely in keeping with the scientific trend of the
past century, which on the one hand, identifies fundamental limits in
so many areas (speed, measurement, mathematical systems, for
example) while on the other simultaneously opens great new
opportunities for scientific endeavor.
Fighting For Liberty
Turing put his science to work in the 1940s to help the British war
effort against the Nazis. He brought to bear his computational
insights to successfully break the German Uboat codes. The thanks
he got from the British government was to be hounded to death
in the 1950s for his homosexuality. 55 years later, the British
government apologized for its mistreatment of one of the heroes
of the second world war.
Alan Turing's Craft
The phrase "Turing's craft" can be understood in more than one
way. For example, Alan Turing's wit (his intelligence, his "craft")
played a role in defeating the Nazis.
On the other hand, by showing that universal computers were
possible (and by showing their few limits), Turing paved the way for
the construction of the first real electronic computers in the 1940s.
He himself was involved in their construction in Britain and in
developing the first programs for those machines. Without being
unfair to the many other greats (von Neumann, Mauchly, etc.), one
could say with some justice that it was Alan Turing who pioneered
and made possible the craft of programming.
Programming, then, is Turing's craft.
But why do we call programming "a craft"? Because programming
requires both art and science, aesthetics and calculation, a precise
understanding of one's tools and the guided experience in their use.
Providing that experience  essential for learning any craft  is
what Turing's Craft, Inc. is all about. You can see how we provide guided
programming experience for yourself by checking out our demo
page.


