Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 6 June 2017
Interested in Turing and looking for a broader insight in the man and the enigma (machine), I picked up the kindle version of this book a while ago and read it over my holiday last week. I found it to be really bad. Snippets of information about Alan's life and how he went about his developments and his focus; but nothing substantial and in places incoherent. At 100 pages it's also an extremely short 'book' (I find it hard to even call it a book), and it makes for an unsatisfying and confusing read.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 December 2014
I bought this Kindle Single short book for 99p as I wanted a quick way to know more about Alan Turing. It did that, but ultimately felt rather superficial and lacking in any deeper insights or details - so overall quite an unrewarding read. The book seems largely drawn from other biographies and publications. If you want to get under the skin of Turing, you'll be better off with a full biography.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 December 2014
A marvellous book and a final vindication of a much maligned scientist trapped in the sad mores of his time. How much more would the world have learned had it been more tolerant? I would recommend this book to everyone.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 June 2017
Wonderful read. Terrible later treatment by our government. Changed the outcome of WW2.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 December 2014
It seems more a student's dissertation, than a novel or a biography
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 March 2017
Interesting and thought provoking read. All who use mobile devices and computers should be aware of the life of Alan Turing
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 December 2014
Very, very short - it was over before I had got into it.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 January 2015
a good quick overview of Alan Turing's life
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 April 2014
When I downloaded this book I feared it might be concerned with Turing's personal life at the expense of his mathematics, or vice versa. I was wrong: David Boyle gives an excellent balance.

Turing was an eccentric: at Bletchley Park he chained his mug to a radiator, held his trousers up with string and could be found knitting in a corner. He found social small-talk difficult. But his mathematical thinking was profound. His special interest was the creation of an intelligent machine.

He devised the tough Turing test for artificial intelligence: there would be a man, a woman, and an interrogator in a separate room trying to work out which was the woman - who would be trying to hinder the process. Now, said Turing, imagine the man was replaced with a machine. Could the interrogator tell whether they were talking to a machine or not after 5 minutes of questioning? Turing would have been satisfied if you couldn't tell which was the machine - his test was not concerned with whether the computer was actually 'thinking'.

As a mathematician Turing combined logic with intuition, and he believed that computers could also (eventually) be intuitive. Remember, this was before the digital age. When the opportunity arrived at Bletchley to create machines to assist in wartime code-breaking they were huge; and even the very latest version, the Colossus, had only 1500 valves.

Turing was particularly interested in 'the liars paradox': at its simplest you can express it just by saying 'I am lying'. The statement 'I am lying' must itself be a lie - unless I was actually telling the truth, in which case I would have been telling a lie. The question for Turing and his contemporaries was not so much whether the paradox could be resolved mathematically, but whether a solution could be resolved at all, by any other means. Turing wondered if some kind of machine was capable of working out the paradox. The answer, Turing said, was it could not. But this was the germ of an idea that eventually became a computer.

Turing didn't start from scratch. Looms were an important inspiration because weaving required punched cards which instructed the machine to weave certain patterns. (My note: first demonstrated in 1801 the Jacquard loom was controlled by a chain of punch cards allowing sequences of any length to be constructed. A portrait of Jacquard in silk required 24000 punched cards to create. The Jacquard loom was based on inventions from the early 18th century). The basics of computing had been conceptualised by the Victorian, Charles Babbage (who owned a Jacquard silk portrait) with his analytical engine - though Turing's friend Robin Gandy said that Turing had not heard of the Babbage engine. But Andrew Hodges (see below) says that Turing was aware of Babbage's work. And at Bletchley the code-breakers had been helped by Polish mathematicians who had been able to read the German Enigma code for some time.

But Turing was thinking of a universal machine that could carry out all possible kinds of algorithms using a binary system to programme it based on the idea of punch cards used by looms, where the holes were either there or not; and like loom punch cards the programme could be changed.

Later, in his work at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington he was frustrated by what he saw as the ridiculous distinction between theoreticians and engineers. He resigned from Teddington in 1948.

Disgracefully by present standards Turing was arrested, convicted as a homosexual in 1952, and forced to take oestrogen treatment. This eventually lead to his suicide. (For a fuller coverage of Turing's personal life and mathematical thinking read 'Alan Turing: The Enigma' by Andrew Hodges).

I recommend David Boyle's book to anyone interested in Turing, the history of computers and artificial intelligence. Boyle concludes that Turing's reputation is growing.
33 Comments| 95 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 December 2014
There is very little information given in this book about either the man or his work, you would be better off reading the Wikipedia entry.
I do not understand how there are so many 4 and 5 star reviews.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse