John R. Ferris (University of Calgary)
March 27, 2012
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Central to Alan Turing's posthumous reputation is his work with British codebreaking during the Second World War. This relationship is not well understood, largely because it stands on the intersection of two technical fields, mathematics and cryptology, the second of which also has been shrouded by secrecy. This lecture will assess this relationship from an historical cryptological perspective. It treats the mathematization and mechanization of cryptology between 1920-50 as international phenomena. It assesses Turing's role in one important phase of this process, British work at Bletchley Park in developing cryptanalytical machines for use against Enigma in 1940-41. It focuses on also his interest in and work with cryptographic machines between 1942-46, and concludes that work with them served as a seed bed for the development of his thinking about computers.