Sunday, October 16, 2011

Public Lecture - Alan Turing and the Secret Cyphers

There will be a free public lecture by Professor Jack Copeland  called "Alan Turing and the Secret Cyphers: Breaking the German Codes at Bletchley Park" on Thursday Nov 3rd at 5.30pm at University of Auckland Conference Centre, 22 Symonds St. Auckland, Building/room 423-342 (click here for a Google Map)
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   Jack Copeland is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing at the University of Canterbury. His publications include the books The Essential Turing; Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine; Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers; and more than 100 articles on the philosophy and history of computing, the philosophy of mind, and philosophical logic.

   It is now widely accepted that Alan Turing was one of the most important founders of both theoretical and practical computing, although he died in 1954 just when the field of computing was getting underway. After his fundamental work on the Theory of Computing, in 1939 Turing was recruited for the effort to decipher enemy codes at Bletchley Park. He disappeared from the public record and it was only many years later that it was widely known what he had accomplished. Turing initially worked on cracking the German “Enigma” codes which involved his devising electro-mechanical special-purpose computing machines known as “bombes.”  
    The story of the Enigma cipher machine and its defeat by the Bletchley Park code-breakers has astounded the world. This lecture also describes Bletchley's success against a later, more advanced German cipher machine that the British codenamed Tunny. Unlike Enigma, which dated from 1923 and was marketed openly throughout Europe, the ultra-secret Tunny was created by scientists of Hitler's Third Reich for use by Hitler and his generals. Central to the Bletchley attack on Tunny was Colossus, the world's first large-scale electronic digital computer.