Alan Turing

Born: 1912
Died: 1954

Occupation: Mathematician & Computer Scientist

Challenges overcome: Speech Impairment

Successes, Achievements & Awards:

Alan Turing is famous today for being a passionate mathematician and conceiving modern computer science, as well as playing a crucial role in the Allied victory in WWII against Nazi Germany, despite not being celebrated for his work at the time.
During his school years, Alan Turing discovered his extra-curricular passion for science and as he got older he found himself asking the fundamental questions on life and began studying modern scientific ideas such as relativity on his own. Winning a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge to study mathematics, Alan Turing thrived in his new home and enjoyed pursing his interests and lifestyle in the liberal environment the College provided. With a distinguished Degree in 1934, Alan went on to be elected as a fellow in 1935 and a Smith’s prize in 1936 for his probability theory work. It was also in 1936 that Alan Turing presented a paper that contained what we now recognise as the foundation of modern computer science. He invented the idea of a ‘Universal Machine’ that could decode and perform any set of instructions. Alan turned this idea into a practical plan for the electronic computer ten years later.

After spending two years at Princeton working on code breaking, Turing joined the government’s code breaking department in Bletchley Park. After September 1939, Alan Turing and his department went on to create the ‘bombe’ a code-breaking machine that was able to decipher Enigma messages on a massive scale. In 1941, Alan Turing and his colleagues, mastered understanding the communications Germany’s submarines were using, which became vital in the battle of the Atlantic.
Whilst working on other projects during the war, Alan Turing developed a system to encrypt and decrypt phone conversations, although this was never used in action, it was enough to lead to a position at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). Turing created designs for the Automatic Computing Engine whilst at NPL, before leaving for Manchester University when his relationship with NPL turned sour.

At Manchester, focusing on the use of computers and investigating the power of a computer against human thought, Alan Turing published a philosophical paper. The paper included the idea of an ‘imitation game’, which compared human and machine outputs, which is now commonly known as the Alan Turing Test. This was Turing’s best-known work and a key contribution the artificial intelligence field. His next paper, completed in 1951, focused on trying to understand the biological patterns of nature, and he explained them using chemical interactions and created equations for them. This work became classic and is still investigated to this day. Alan Turing also became a fellow of the Royal Society of Fellows in the same year. Unfortunately Alan Turing’s security clearance was revoked in 1967 ending his code breaking work, after being arrested for homosexuality activity/gross misconduct. Alan Turing was granted a posthumous Royal Pardon cancelling his criminal conviction in December 2013.

Challenges Overcome

Alan Turing had a speech impairment, which made his voice go higher in pitch when he spoke and got him stuck on words.
Struggling with life after his brutal punishment of oestrogen injections for his gross misconduct conviction, Alan Turing is thought to have killed himself after eating an apple poisoned with cyanide, but some believe it may have been an accident.

Disability Definitions

Speech and Language Impairment

Speech and language impairment are basic categories that might be drawn in issues of communication involve hearing, speech, language, and fluency.

A speech impairment is characterised by difficulty in articulation of words. Examples include stuttering or problems producing particular sounds. Articulation refers to the sounds, syllables, and phonology produced by the individual. Voice, however, may refer to the characteristics of the sounds produced specifically, the pitch, quality, and intensity of the sound. Often, fluency will also be considered a category under speech, encompassing the characteristics of rhythm, rate, and emphasis of the sound produced.

A language impairment is a specific impairment in understanding and sharing thoughts and ideas, i.e. a disorder that involves the processing of linguistic information. Problems that may be experienced can involve the form of language, including grammar, morphology, syntax; and the functional aspects of language, including semantics and pragmatics.

Speech and language impairment. (2015, March 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:33, May 20, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Speech_and_language_impairment&oldid=654413208

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Information sources:

Please click on the information links below to find out more.

Andrew Hodges, ‘Turing, Alan Mathison (1912–1954)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36578, accessed 13 May 2015] – Please note that you will require library subscription or a library card to access the content on this site.

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