I imagine there are very few people reading this blog who don’t know that the Allies won the second world war. I also imagine that many, if not most, of you have heard of Enigma machines, and that a significant number of you know that the British managed to crack the Enigma codes as well as other German and Axis codes. This was a massive advantage for the Allies, and in no small way, helped to turn the tide of war against the Axis powers.

However, I imagine that there are not too many of you who have heard of Alan Turing. Academically he laid the very foundations upon which computer science, and hence our entire digital world, are built. His 1936 paper entitled “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem” doesn’t sound very relevant to Twitter or FaceBook, but it’s one of the foundation stones on which all these things rest. You’ll note that Turing’s work on the theory of computation pre-dates the existence of any actual computers!

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