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Public lecture: Alan Turing – Computing for Life

Press release issued: 6 October 2010

The personal and intellectual motivations of one of the 21st century’s great mathematical logicians, credited with discovering Artificial Intelligence and posthumously celebrated for his crucial code breaking role in the Second World War, will be explored at a University of Bristol public lecture.

Alan Turing was one of the founders of the discipline of computer science, a pioneer in computer design and one of the first scientists to suggest the use of non-linear dynamics in biology.  And as biographer Dr Andrew Hodges will show, Turing’s achievements were testament to the value of scientific and mathematical enquiry.  But perhaps more intriguingly, Turing’s drive and ambition was fuelled by a lifetime of personal struggles, which ultimately played their part in his premature death at the age of 41.

An inspiration to philosophers, mathematicians, logicians and computer scientists, Turing’s accomplishments are of timeless relevance.  Conventionally considered a British mathematical logician, he was fascinated with the nature of the human mind and its embodiment in the brain.  He discovered the computer, developed the now famous Turing Test, pitting the human mind against computational power, and cracked the German U-boat Enigma cipher.

Dr Hodges, who will deliver the lecture on 13 October at the Wills Memorial Building, believes Turing’s life and work demonstrates the essence of scientific research:   “Alan Turing's ideas seemed to come out of nowhere. He described the central concept of the computer in 1936, long before anyone was thinking about building computers for practical purposes. He did the same again in 1950 with his theory of biological growth. But his ideas were deeply rooted in the central questions of science, and in looking at those roots we learn about the human capacity for vision and originality which drives all serious research.”

The lecture, Alan Turing – Computing for Life, is hosted by the University of Bristol’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory.  It will be held on 13 October at 6pm in the Wills Memorial Building, Queen’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1RJ.  Attendance is free but booking is strongly recommended by emailing

For enquiries contact Cheryl Slater 0117 331 7040, Further information is available at

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