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Alan Turing was not like most men. Turing was a genius: he solved one of the hardest scientific problems of his era, and in the process developed the theory of the modern computer and helped begin the search for artificial intelligence.
Turing even built some of the first mainframe computers. Turing helped end World War Two by breaking submarine codes, saving thousands of lives. In many ways Turing helped define the modern era. And despite his genius and his service to his country, Dr Alan Turing died alone and shunned by a society that criminalised his homosexuality. He was 41.
This year is the centennial of Turing's birth and the world is rightly singing his praises, if much too late for him to hear them. Turing combined a deep insight into abstract theoretical problems with an engineer's need to build the solutions to those problems, to make the solution effective, in every sense of the word.