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Benedict Cumberbatch Is Alan Turing In The First Imitation Game Trailer

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Get a first look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, computer scientist, mathematician, father of artificial intelligence and the person who cracked the German Enigma code. The Imitation Game appears to focus on the latter of Turing's accomplishments, which makes sense as solving the Germans' "uncrackable" code helped the Allies defeat the Axis Powers.


Turing's work not only saved thousands of lives; he is also still hailed as a pioneer of computer science. And his creation the "Turing Machine" could imitate any computing device or program (which we're guessing is being referenced in the title). Edit: Actually, as you all pointed out in the comments (thank you) "The Imitation Game was Turing's name for what we call a Turing Test."

Unfortunately, Turing's story has a tragic end. The scientist was forced to suffer chemical castration for being gay (a crime at the time in Britain), an act that allegedly drove him to suicide. It was a horrifying act done to a brilliant mind.


We hope Cumberbatch's movie will reflect the genius of Turing's work because Cumberbatch's last biographical movie was not so great—not that it was his fault. The Imitation Game will premiere in theaters on November 21st.

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Oh boy, can't wait; this looks great. A few facts:

1. They were never able to break "every message, every day, instantly"; some remain unbroken to this day. Their ability to break Enigma at all rested in the German's misuse of the system.

2. Turning did not invent the Bombe (the machine with all the wheels in the trailer). Polish cryptanalyst Marian Rejewski developed the concept and provided a model to the British codebreakers; Turing and Gordon Welchman refined and implemented it.

3. Women recruited into the program were invariably assigned to clerical duties, even when they out-scored men in qualifying tests. Of course none of them were probably as attractive as Keira Knightley.

4. The title refers to Turing's 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence which included what is now called the Turing Test. The paper referred to the Imitation Game, a party game in which one player tries to determine the gender of hidden players based only on their written answers to his questions.

5. Turing's hypothetical computer (the Turning Machine) appeared in a 1936 paper titled On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem. It was a thought experiment to illustrate the limits of computability; he never intended anyone to actually build one. It was not designed for the purpose of imitating other machines, but rather the ability of one Turning Machine to perform any function of any other was a property of all Turing Machines (now called Turing Completeness). A few people have built working models, although they are not true Turing Machines as their storage tapes are finite.

NB: Turing's real purpose in writing this paper was to present his solution to the Entscheidungsproblem (Decision Problem), one of a set of 23 unsolved mathematical problems put forth by David Hilbert in 1902. It asked if it is possible to write a function that will determine the truth or falseness of any mathematical expression. Turing showed that this question is equivalent to asking if it is possible to write a program that can determine whether it will stop or run forever (the Halting Problem). Turing showed that no such function is possible, and so the answer to Hilbert's question is no; such a function is undecidable. This was one of the major mathematical findings of the 20th century. Coupled with Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, it sent shockwaves through the mathematical community that are still reverberating.