The Turing Legacy - The Gibbons Lectures 2012

11 April 2012

Alan Matheson Turing was born in 1912. It is now widely accepted that he was one of the most important founders of both theoretical and practical computing, although he died in 1954 just when the field of computing was getting underway. Many of his contributions were not widely recognized at first, but this year, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, he is being celebrated by a series of events organized world-wide. We are joining the festivities by devoting this year's Gibbons lectures to Turing and his influence.

Turing's work was the basis for many areas of computing research and development that are still on-going. We have in New Zealand and our Department researchers who are experts in some of these areas and also experts in Turing and his achievements. The four Gibbons lectures this year will involve "local" speakers discussing four topics in the rough order of Turing's involvement during his lifetime.

The lead lecture for 2012 is by Professor Cristian Calude. He will talk on the Theory of Computing, the first area for which Turing is renowned and where Professor Calude has made many contributions himself. We are lucky to have as our second lecturer Professor Jack Copeland from the University of Canterbury. Professor Copeland is one of the world's leading experts on Turing and will address Turing's secret involvement with Cryptanalysis during WW2. (Please note that this talk has been pre-recorded and will be webcast only.) Turing emerged from the war with a burning interest in building a practical electronic computer - this is covered in the third talk by Professors Carpenter and Doran of our department who have had a long interest in the origins of computing. As computers started to become available Turing turned his interest to using them to perform intellectual tasks rather than just calculation. He is recognized as the founder of Artificial Intelligence - a subject to be covered in the final lecture by Associate Professor Ian Watson of our department.

Thursday 26 April
Alan Turing and the Unsolvable Problem: To Halt or Not to Halt - That is the Question
Prof Cristian Calude

Thursday 3 May
Alan Turing and the Secret Cyphers: Breaking the German Codes at Bletchley Park
Prof Jack Copeland
NOTE: This talk has been pre-recorded and will be webcast only

Thursday 10 May 
Alan Turing and the Computing Engine: Turing's achievements in practical computing
Prof Brian Carpenter and Prof Bob Doran

Thursday 17 May
Alan Turing and the Artificial Brain: The Development of Artificial Intelligence
Assoc Prof Ian Watson

The live lectures are scheduled for 6pm at the University Conference Centre, 22 Symonds Street. But the May 3rd lecture will be webcast at that time, then available, like the other lectures, as a podcast to download. 

Visitors should note that there is ample inexpensive parking under the Owen Glen building, just around the corner in Grafton Road. Please RSVP to

The lectures in the Gibbons Lecture Series describe developments in research in Computer Science and are aimed at a general but technical audience - Computer Science students at all levels, IT practitioners in other departments and outside the University.