It’s All Logic: Martin Davis “Decodes” Alan Turing’s Pioneering Work


Martin Davis

Alan Turing (1912–1954) was an English mathematician, logician, pioneer of computer science, and wartime code-breaker. He is credited with creating a design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), the early electronic stored-program computer, as well as the Bomb - a decryption device that the British government used during WWII to crack the German “Enigma,” machine, which encrypted secret messages.

Professor Emeritus at New York University's Computer Science Department, Martin Davis is one of the world’s most notable logicians and researchers in the theory of computation. He is the author of several books, including The Universal Computer, which follows a strand in the history of computing from Gottfried von Leibniz to Alan Turing.

Q: Alan Turing is often credited as being the "father of the computer." But the English mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage had conceived and designed the first mechanical computer back in the 19th century that eventually led to more complex designs. What is your view regarding this?

A:  Babbage famously said that his “analytic engine” could do anything except compose country dances, clearly intending that this task was beyond what a mere calculating device could be expected to do. The machines Turing imagined and that we now possess can readily do that.

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