Code breaker and mathematician Alan Turing’s centenary to be celebrated at University of Manchester conference

By Mihaela Ivantcheva

Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and Google Senior Vice-President Dr Vint Cerf are among the leading figures who will celebrate the legacy of Alan Turing in Manchester.

The computer conference to honour the father of the modern computer, hailed as the biggest ever, will be hosted by the University of Manchester from June 22 to June 25.

The Alan Turing Centenary Conference has attracted leading speakers, including physicists Sir Roger Penrose and George Ellis, as well as Dr David Ferrucci, head of the IBM’s Watson project, an artificial intelligence computer system.

Professor Andrei Voronkov, conference organiser, said: “If you search the Web for terms ‘morphogenesis’, ‘Turing test’ and ‘Turing machine’, you will see why Alan Turing is arguably the most famous computer scientist of all time.

“The result is a set of speakers unmatched in the history of computing.”

The event will feature three days of lectures and panel discussions touching upon a wide array of topics – from Turing’s legacy in the digital age, to computer science, the nature of human mind and the possibilities and limits of artificial intelligence.

Professor Voronkov believes the main aim of the conference is to push forward understanding of the most fundamental and important issues in the information science and artificial intelligence.

The discussions will be accompanied by a computer chess event, a poster session, and a competition of computer programmes proving theorems.

Dr Ferrucci said: “Alan Turing left us with a remarkably inviting, essential and universally stimulating challenge – can computers exhibit a thinking and communicating behaviour so similar to ours that it would be ostensibly indistinguishable? The challenge turns out to be harder than anyone ever imagined.”

Turing, who joined The University of Manchester in 1948, is recognised for his invaluable contribution in breaking the Enigma code during the Second World War as well as for his work in the fields of artificial intelligence, computer science and mathematics, among others.

He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for having a homosexual relationship, and subjected to chemical castration and died two years later, aged 41, from cyanide poisoning.

Forty-five years after his death, Time magazine listed him among the 20th century’s 100 greatest minds, along with the Wright brothers, Albert Einstein and Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin.

The first public lecture by Jack Copeland, one of Turing’s biographers, entitled ‘Alan Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age’ will be held at University Place at The University of Manchester at 6.30pm on Friday, June 22. The second, ‘The Problem of Modelling the Mathematical Mind’ by physicist Sir Roger Penrose, is on Monday, June 25, at 8pm at Manchester Town Hall.

To book free tickets for the public lectures and for more information on the conference visit

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