Alan Turing – The Man Who Saved Millions

Alan Turing – As World War II raged on, there were many desperate attempts to halt German communications. Alan Turing’s attempt is considered to be the most successful after he created a machine that was able to decipher an otherwise uncrackable code. The ability of technology to conduct tasks that the human mind cannot is demonstrated in Turing’s work

Alan Turing is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable minds due to his contributions to modern technology. At the time, Turing was best known for his service to the Allies during World War II. More notably, he played a crucial role in a project that resulted in the creation of the Turing machine which ultimately turned the tide of the war. The Turing machine was built to combat the Enigma machine which the Germans used to exchange encoded information. The Enigma machine was devastating to the Allies since, though they were able to receive the messages, they were unable to make sense of the ciphers it used. The Enigma machine utilized a system that banked on the machine’s setting changing on a daily basis. This system made it impossible to decipher messages from the Enigma machine by hand and it still is to this day. 

A group of cryptanalysts was tasked with discovering Enigma’s daily settings in Bletchley Park, Britain. Turing offered the idea of a machine that can simulate a human brain but was able to accomplish tasks in a quicker fashion. At the time, this idea seemed far-fetched and implausible, however, Turing was able to convince the team to build the machine, known as “Bombe”. The bombe basically looped through all the possible settings the Enigma machine could create while eliminating any possible contradictions. The bombe did this by comparing an encrypted message to a known plain text. This was one of the first applications of a computing algorithm. However, the machine weighed about a ton and was nowhere as small as modern computers. The bombe utilized a set of three rotors to unscramble the messages. Obviously, the bombe was a success and was able to decipher encrypted messages created by the Enigma machine. According to the BBC, with the creation of the bombe, Alan Turing was able to shorten the war by two to four years, saving millions of lives.


Shlok Bhattacharya

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