Article: Alan Turing

Long Version


On the 23rd of June, 1912 Alan Mathison Turing was born as the second child of Sara and Julius Mathison Turing and brother of John Ferrier Turing. With his dad working for the Indian Civil and serving in the Madras Presidency, India, Service he and his brother spend much time during their childhood separated from their parents.

Even though Alan did not seem to be the classical model student, with numerous complaints about his untidiness, the headmistress of Alan’s pre-preparatory school already saw that there was something special about him. Upon his leaving for Preparatory school she said to Sara Turing, “I have had clever boys and hard-working boys, but Alan has genius”.

As it is with many geniuses, Alan too struggled with the classical education system. It was on of his mum’s greatest fears that he would not be allowed to a public school. But it was not the motivation that he was missing. After being accepted to Sherborne school, a boarding school in Dorset, he biked 60 miles to attend the first day of school because the General Strike of 1926 stopped the public transport. At Sherborne, Alan met Christopher Morcom and established a friendship with him. It was through Morcom that he got inspired and interested in science.

The sudden death of his friend in February 1930 hit him hard, however, he did not let the grief take him down. In a letter to his mother he wrote that he would need to put all energy into his scientific work to not let Christopher down, now that their ideas are left to him alone. Even though he did not make it into Trinity College, Cambridge (the best university for math at that time), he graduated from Kingston College, Cambridge (his second choice) in 1931 with first class honours. In his dissertation he proved the Central Limit Theorem. However, when accepting his proof, the committee did not know that it was proven already (by Jarl Waldemar Lindeberg) and was therefore never published. He was nevertheless named a Fellow of Kingston College at the age of 23.