Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Films About Alan Turing

I'm a few days late in celebrating the 100th birthday of Alan Turing, one of the great
mathematicians of the 20th century, who laid the foundations for computer science by developing the concepts of “algorithms” and “computing machines.” (See his seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers.”) Turing also played a key role in breaking the Nazi Enigma code during World War II.

The two films below explore Turing’s life and times. The first film is Dangerous Knowledge, the BBC’s 90-minute documentary that takes a close look at four mathematicians – Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Turing – whose thinking profoundly influenced modern mathematics but also drove them (or so the program argues) to insanity and eventually suicide. You can find Part 2 here (Turing section around the 20 minute mark of part 2).

The second film, the BBC's 1996 Breaking the Code, explores Turing’s exploits as a World War II code breaker. It features Derek Jacobi as Turing and Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter as the mysterious “Man from the Ministry.” Directed by Herbert Wise, the film is based on a 1986 play by Hugh Whitemore, which in turn was based on Andrew Hodge’s 1983 book Alan Turing: The Enigma.

Dangerous Knowledge

Breaking the Code

1 comment: