Alan Turing in America

“Beyond the way they speak, there is only one (no two!) features of American life which I find really tiresome. The impossibility of getting a bath in the ordinary sense and their ideas on room temperature” — Alan Turing (1936)

Pioneering British computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing first arrived in America on the 28th of September 1936. Born in 1912, Turing was twenty-four years old when he was invited attend graduate school at Princeton University, studying under Alonzo Church. A Master’s student of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Turing was at the time working on the theory of computability and would in the coming months be publishing his now renowned paper “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem” which re-proved his eventual Ph.D. supervisors’ result known as Church’s theorem.

Turing would travel to America twice, first in ’36 and next in ’42. His first visit was for graduate studies in mathematics, his second as a liaison for the UK’s team of cryptoanalysts at Bletchley Park. This essay aims to recount some of his experiences while there. Continue reading

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