Alan Turing: A Genius in Cryptanalysis

Almost all of us have heard of the great Alan Turing. He was the man behind the formalization of the concepts of algorithm and computer science. He provided the concept of what a general purpose computer is supposed to be composed of in the form of a model that is now known as the Turing machine. So great was he that Alan Turing is regarded by most people as the father of artificial intelligence and theoretical computer science.

Even as a child, Turing showed a natural talent in the field of science and mathematics. He knew his way around numerous problems and displayed a deep understanding and analysis of the calculations despite having no background about them. He was always at the top of his class from elementary all the way to his college days.

In 1931, Turing chanced upon the work of Kurt Gödel on the limits of computation. He challenged the then-accepted universal arithmetic formal language and replaced it with a simpler concept that is the Turing machine. He believed that a machine’s ability to compute is never limited. Instead, these devices will be able to solve any problem as long as the instructions and computations are presented using algorithms. His theory paved the way for the concept of a universal machine and the beginning of the foundations of computation.

During World War II, Turing once again proved his mathematical and analytical flair when he decrypted the German ciphers. Back then, the Nazis have been using the Enigma machine to encode their messages and the Allies are at a loss as to how to uncover the real messages. Turing worked on studying the wiring of the Enigma machine. He used the crib-based approach on decryption until finally, a breakthrough was made. He was able to specify how the rotors moved which led him to replicate it into decrypting the codes. His specifications led to the development of the bombe. This achievement led the Allies to intercept many of the messages and gave them the upper hand during the war.

But Turing’s accomplishments did not end there. He continued to work for the government, lending them a hand at cryptanalysis. He developed the voice scrambler, realized how the German navy made use of their indicators, penned down the procedure used in the setting of the Tunny and formulated the system as to how they can optimize the use of bombes.


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