Turing and the Turing Machine

There are slides devoted to this topic: Lecture 0, pp. 40-42.


Learn all about Alan Turing and his contributions to computing and codebreaking by visiting The Alan Turing Homepage, a website dedicated to Turing’s tumultuous life. The site includes a concise and compelling biography, a resource page for Turing’s philosophical thought, and a list of digital archives of Turing’s work.

For concise and well-researched biography, visit the University of St. Andrew’s “Alan Mathison Turing” article.

Read another biographical article on Alan Turing from History of Computers. This short article focuses largely on the Turing Machine and its implications for computing.

If you’re more interested in Turing’s contributions to philosophy, check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on Alan Turing, which covers the thinker’s work on the Turing machine, links between the logical and the physical, machine intelligence, and more! You can also learn more about “The Church-Turing Thesis,” by which Turing posited that all known forms of mathematical calculation could be conducted by a machine – specifically, the “Turing Machine,” the theoretical device meriting its own entry in the philosophical encyclopedia.

For a detailed explanation of the Turing Machine, its functions, and the principles upon which it was founded, read the well-researched Wikipedia entry on the “Turing Machine.”

Although Turing is often described as an isolated genius, he moved in a community of other mathematicians and engineers who were all intrigued by the new advances in computational technology. You can get a sense of contemporary conversations of computing – its possibilities and its limitations – in the notes from a discussion at Manchester University, in which Turing and other thinkers participated.

Can’t get enough of Turing? Visit The Turing Digital Archive, maintained by King’s College, Cambridge, to read scanned copies of the mathematician’s manuscripts, speeches, correspondence, photographs, and more.


Check out Breaking the Code: Biography of Alan Turing, a full-length movie on Alan Turing and his  mathematical and computational accomplishments. The dramatic film is based off of the book Alan Turing: The Enigma, a biography by Andrew Hodges, and is true to documentary and testimonial evidence of Turing’s life. The film covers such topics as the Turing Machine and the Entscheidungsproblem, breaking the Enigma Code, and the EDVAC.

Watch a video of a physical model of the Turing Machine in action.

Other Media

Visit the “Graphic Homage to Alan Mathison Turing,” a biographical picture slideshow put together for the centennial celebration of Turing’s birth.

Still confused by the Turing machine? Want to test one out for yourself? Check out this Turing machine simulator, which comes preset with several programs, including a subtractor and a palindrome detector.

If you feel ready to take on a new challenge, visit Wolfram Alpha’s Turing calculator, which requires the user to have a deep understanding of how the Turing machine operates.