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8. Alan Turing


Last but not the least, we have the father of computer science, Alan Turing, who made several mathematical contributions which formalized the concept of the computer algorithm, and hypothetical computation engines even before computers were a technological reality.

Even though he was an average player himself, he considered chess-playing to be the ideal starting point for researching the field of artificial intelligence.

Along with David Champernowne, he specified a chess playing algorithm in 1950, which was named Turochamp and was referred to as “paper machine” by Turing.

Since there was no machine yet that could execute the instructions, he did it himself, acting as a human CPU which required more than half an hour per move.

One such game is recorded, which Turing’s machine lost to one of his colleagues Alick Glennie, and the game can be viewed here.

At the Turing Centenary Conference held in Manchester in June 2012, Garry Kasparov spoke about Turing’s contribution to chess and even played a game against the reconstructed Turing paper machine. Kasparov said, “I suppose you might call it primitive, but I would compare it to an early car – you might laugh at them but it is still an incredible achievement. He wrote algorithms without having a computer – many young scientists would never believe that was possible. It was an outstanding accomplishment. Although it’s only thinking two moves ahead, I would have thought it would give the amateur player some serious problems. Alan Turing is one of the very few people about who you could say that if he had lived longer the world would be a different place.”

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8. Alan Turing


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