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Late computer pioneer Alan Turing goes big

Posting in Technology
 
Alan Turing in Slate Jon Callas Wiki.jpg
Slated for big things: Alan Turing's name will live on at a new "big data" institute in Britain. Above, a slate statue of him at Bletchley Park, England, where he helped crack German code in WWII.
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 One of computing's biggest names from the past is uniting with one of its biggest trends of the present, as the U.K. government announced it will help build a new "big data" research center named after legendary British mathematician Alan Turing.

Turing is widely considered a father of modern computing and artificial intelligence. His pioneering 1936 "Turing Machine" was a precursor to general purpose mainframes. In the 1940s, he led efforts in Bletchley Park, England that cracked Germany's Enigma code, a breakthrough that keyed the Allied victory in World War II.

Now, his name will live on in the development of "big data," the latest buzzword ascribed to the pursuit of information technology that best manages and applies large databases (the phrase seems to have replaced "data mining" and "data warehousing" in the popular lexicon now that the world's accumulation of bits and bytes has grown really really large and promises to become really really really ginormous).

British Chancellor George Osborne (the central government's equivalent of a Treasury Secretary) said earlier this week that the U.K. will provide £42 million ($69 million) toward establishing the Alan Turing Institute.

According to the BBC, the center "will focus on new ways of collecting, organising and analysing large sets of data - commonly known as big data." 

Osborne does not seem to have announced a location. According to the story, he is inviting universities and other groups to bid. Presumably the institute would spring up on the site of a winning backer. For whoever that turns out to be, they will have scored a big deal.

Image is from Jon Callas via Wikimedia

— By on March 21, 2014, 6:17 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure