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11.21.2014 | 28 Heshvan, 5775
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Health & Science
JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH \
Competition to mark birthday of Alan Turing
ALAN TURING 370.
(photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)
The “father” of the modern computer and artificial intelligence – English
mathematician, logician and code breaker Alan Turing – had a short life and a
tragic death. The 100th birthday of his birth on June 23, 1912, will be marked
by the Science and Technology Ministry by holding a competition among teenagers,
who are asked to extract facts about Turing from a code of 500 million binary
digits.Information for participating in the competition can be obtained
– in Hebrew only – at the ministry’s website at www.most.gov.il/turing.Turing committed suicide in 1954 two weeks before
his 42nd birthday and two years after he was criminally prosecuted by the
government for homosexual acts that were still illegal in the United
Kingdom. Considered the “Einstein” of computing, Turing was forced to
undergo chemical castration through female hormones to avoid being sent to
prison, but in 2009, then-prime minister Gordon Brown apologized to him
posthumously.He developed the Turing machine, which led to better
understanding of the terms “computation” and “algorithm” and led to the
development of the modern computer decades later. During the Second World War,
he worked for the British government’s project to analyze encryption of the
German Navy.Over the coming two months, high school pupils will for the
first time be challenged to find hidden data in the 500 million binary digits of
the mathematical concept of pi.Events to mark the anniversary of the
birth of Turing have been and will be held in Israel and around the world. The
ministry and Tel Aviv University profs. Nahum Dershowitz and Lior Wolf, who are
members of the Turing Centennial Year committee in Israel, decided to focus on
Turing’s contributions to the victory over Germany by working on the German
code.Science and Technology Minister Prof. Daniel Herschkowitz said that
also today, encryption is very important in cyber wars. “It is very
important for young people to deal in codes as a contribution to the future of
Israel,” he said.The top three winners will receive computer tablets and
a rare visit to WEIZAC, one of the world’s first computers, which was built in
1954-55 at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and was operational
until the end of 1963. They will also be invited to present their ideas
or projects to a forum of senior computer scientists.
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