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Alan Turing : his work and impact
Cooper S., van Leeuwen J., Elsevier Science, Waltham, MA, 2013. 944 pp. Type: Book (978-0-123869-80-7)
Date Reviewed: Sep 17 2013

A volume of this caliber is difficult to review, not only because of its length but also because half of the contents are the collected works of one of the most prominent modern scientists, Alan Turing, whose birth centenary it commemorates. This brief review can thus only offer comments on Turing’s work and on the volume as a whole.

While it is no doubt difficult to imagine people with stronger credentials to comment on Turing’s seminal papers than those invited to contribute to this volume, I cannot but wonder if it wouldn’t have been interesting to invite more younger commentators, allowing them to take advantage of this prestigious forum.

The volume is an excellent introduction to many exciting topics that Turing greatly contributed to, and in some cases founded, from computability theory to programming languages, complexity theory, the philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, and the emergence of structure in biology, among others.

The book is divided into several parts, each of which contains one of Turing’s seminal papers, followed by the comments of a group of established world-class scholars who relate it to their own research. The number of commentators per part reflects the impact of Turing’s work on science. Readers of almost any background and any level will find something fascinating, something to capture their imaginations, in this volume. It will undoubtedly inspire some readers to climb onto the shoulders of this giant, whose work is far from finalized and still continues to suggest new directions in science and technology. It was also very refreshing to come across a work in the context of Turing’s centenary that leaves his personal life aside and focuses exclusively on his considerable academic achievements.

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Reviewer:  Hector Zenil Review #: CR141561 (1312-1089)
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