On September 29, 1936, Alan Turing arrived at the Graduate College, Princeton, knowing that at 24 he had already made a major discovery that would change mathematics. In particular, his definition of the “universal machine” had opened the way to modern computer science. In this talk Dr. Hodges will survey Alan Turing’s life and work in this, the centenary year of Turing’s birth. During Turing’s time at Princeton, Turing had to make difficult choices about how to build on his astonishingly early achievement. The very individual decisions he made in 1938 affected everything thereafter, including the outcome of the Second World War. Those decisions also foreshadowed his later commitment to computer-building and his role as computer prophet. Although his time in the United States was short, connections with the new superpower remained vital in his remaining 16 years. And that famous poisoned apple in a famous 1938 American film became the image Alan Turing chose for his death in 1954. This event is in conjunction with the Turing Centennial Celebration beginning in May (see http://www.princeton.edu/turing/).
Andrew Hodges is a Fellow in Mathematics, Wadham College, Oxford University.