Google on Saturday challenged searchers to a puzzle in homage to what would have been Alan Turing's 100th birthday.
Turing, a brilliant British mathematician and codebreaker, worked for the British government during World War II. His work cracking German code and improving technologies used to do so earned him an Order of the British Empire after the war. According to the New York Times, Turing's contribution "changed the outcome of the war because it gave the Allies an ear into German planning."
Among his many accomplishments after the war, Turing in 1936 laid the groundwork for modern computing when he presented algorithms, rules for solving mathematic calculations, along with a hypothetical "Turing machine" that could read these rules.
In the 1950s Turing developed a test to measure the intelligence of early computer systems and argued that machines can think. The Turing Test is an imitation game in which a human and a computer input binary data into a terminal, and a human judge determines which participant is man and which is machine.
Turing "provided the blueprint for building a machine that could do any computation that a person could, marking the first step towards the modern notion of a computer," according to a post on the Official Google Blog written by Andrew Eland, Google U.K.'s director of engineering.
Turing's life took a tragic turn in 1952, when the British government convicted him of indecency for acts of homosexuality. He ended his life in 1954 after undergoing chemical castration as an alternative to prison.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an apology in 2009. From Brown's statement, per CNET:
While Mr. Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him.
Google's home page doodle features a challenging game modeled after the Turing machine. The user must follow the device's instructions to spell out "Google" in binary. A helpful YouTube user has uploaded a couple instructional videos that walk you through the game's six easy levels (above) and the six hard levels (below). Can you solve them all?
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