College of Liberal Arts

Renowned Scholars to Discuss Life of Computing Pioneer Alan Turing at Centenary Symposium

Saturday Jun 23, 2012 4:30 PM - 9:30 PM | AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, 1900 University, Amphitheater Room 204

Three prominent scholars will discuss the life and contributions of Alan Turing at a symposium commemorating the centennial of his birth. Turing was one of the earliest pioneers of computer science and artificial intelligence. The event is hosted by the Department of Linguistics at The University of Texas at Austin in conjunction with the North American Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (NASSLLI) program.

In honor of Turing — who played a critical role in breaking German military codes during World War II — three leading scholars in computer science and linguistics will discuss his life and the impact of his work.

During Turing’s relatively brief life (he died in 1954 at the age of 42), he made key contributions to the fields of computing, computer science, artificial intelligence, developmental biology and the mathematical theory of computability. He invented the Turing machine, the conceptual precursor of the modern computer.

The panelists are:

Kevin Knight, professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California, specializes in several areas of computational linguistics including artificial intelligence and machine translation. He will discuss “Language Translation and Code-Breaking” at 4:40 p.m.

Bob King, the Audre and Bernard Rappoport Regents Chair Emeritus of Jewish Studies and Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, specializes in several areas of historical linguistics. He often teaches School of Undergraduate Studies courses on spies and Turing’s wartime activities. He will discuss “Alan Turing, Genius, Patriot, Victim” at 5:40 p.m.

Bruce Sterling, science fiction writer and University of Texas at Austin alumnus, is one of the co-founders of the “cyberpunk” movement in the 1980s. In 2011 he donated a collection of his materials — including books, posters, serial volumes and drafts of his works — to the Harry Ransom Center. He will discuss “Turing's Strange Seas of Thought” at 7:40 p.m.

The lectures will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by David Beaver, professor of linguistics and director of NASSLLI 2012. The event is free and open to the public. Seats are limited.

The NASSLLI summer program, which is held at The University of Texas at Austin this year, will conclude with a Reasoning and Interaction Workshop on June 23-24. The two-day workshop will feature talks by NASSLLI instructors and students, which include linguists from The University of Texas at Austin. The workshop is open to enrolled students only. Media are invited. Go to this website for more details.

For more information, contact: Chris Brown, NASSLLI School,; 512-785-5037; Justin Cope, NASSLLI School,; 512-771-9894; David Beaver, Department of Linguistics,, 512-656-3929

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