< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·
|Feb-11-15|| ||waustad: When doing lectures on the history of computing it was always a question how to deal with different people involved in porgramming. There have been times I mentioned some of the social issues involved with Turing, but usually I stuck to him as a mathematician and spent more time on Bletchley Park. I gave them lists of web sites that told much more detail that I could in class. A beginning Java class for non-majors didn't seem to be the place for that discussion.|
One reason I did history for the first few days was that there were so many adds and drops that having something they could just read for the first few days meant that I didn't have to repeat as much as I would have had I started out with programming syntax. Besides, I find it interesting.
|Feb-12-15|| ||HeMateMe: How could a nation like GB, which holds it's war heroes in such high esteem, have been so cruel to Turing? Could it be that the general public didn't have knowledge of his aid in defeating the Enigma code? Had they known, surely public opinion could have saved him from harassment? Helpful newspaper articles?|
Think of how many allied merchant sailors and navy members he and his code breakers saved--surely a government would be appreciative of such a thing? Not a monster like Stalin, but a responsible government like that of England?
I can't wait to rent the movie when it comes around on Net flix or cable tv. I wonder if it was political--maybe he embarrassed or was going to embarrass someone in high places, maybe the royal family, and that's why they crushed him?
|Feb-12-15|| ||waustad: <HHM>Much of what was done at Bletchley Park was secret until much later. When the court cases involving ENIAC vs the Atanasoff and Berry computer were being tried in 1973, the British "first electronic computer," Colossus, was still secret. Turing's work was involved with espionage so making it public would have been against the official secrets act, about which you've probably read in Flemming or Le Carre novels.|
|Feb-12-15|| ||offramp: Colossus... The names of early computers showed off their ever-increasing size. In the 1980s there was the opposite effect - micro- and mini- were the prefixes to impress.|
|Feb-12-15|| ||HeMateMe: Turing's work had huge repercussions in North Africa, too. The British had been pushed all the way to Cairo by Rommel's Afrika Corp, despite having numerical superiority in men and tanks. The British historian David Irving wrote a very descriptive book about Rommel in WWII.|
He was a master of deception and movement. His staff would create an array of card board tanks, to fool British spotter planes. The real tanks would be hidden by camouflaged netting. Then, the real tanks would show up by surprise in another sector and win a battle. Or, the German trucks would be put in front of tanks, to create a sand block out of the sun. Then, the tanks would attack by surprise at Montgomery's positions.
It all changed when the Enigma code was broken. Rommel was in the habit of sending out hourly messages to Berlin and Italy, regarding his situations and timetable for battle and supplies. Suddenly the British knew exactly where and when he was going to attack. They knew the delivery times of oil tankers and spare tank parts from Italy, and those boats were duly sunk by the RAF. Without ammunition and enough oil to maneuver, Rommel was slowly ground down.
It wasn't Bernard Law Montgomery who was the biggest hero of North Africa; it was the breaking of the Enigma code.
|Feb-12-15|| ||offramp: "To ture" is a very rare old English verb. It means
<verb, intransitive: to offer toast to a group of people on a large silver platter or trencher (rare)>.
|Apr-19-15|| ||kamagong24: the code breaker!|
|Apr-19-15|| ||Sneaky: Although I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch's performance, I found the movie The Imitation Game too inaccurate for my tastes.
The most glaring inaccuracy is that the movie portrayed Turing building the machine from scratch. In fact he improved upon the Polish BOMBE computer, which was actually successful for a short period before the Nazis made some changes to the Enigma machine.|
Also, no effort was made to explain what his ideas really were. The concept of a computer with its software stored in memory, as opposed to being "hardwired", was not once mentioned. (The idea, actually, is credited to John von Neumann although some scholars say that others had the notion before him.) Nor did we hear Turing talk about matters which were dear to his heart: algorithms, the halting problem, uncomputable numbers, or anything at all to do with computer science.
I realize that movie producers don't want the dialogue to go over the heads of the viewers, but why not? It's realistic. If you could travel back in time and have lunch with Alan, I'm sure half of what he said would go over your head.
And the kicker was the scene where Turing and his colleagues had to make a decision as to whether or not to act on decoded message regarding an attack on a English city. The dilemma was that if the Allies prevented the attack the Germans would know that their code was broken, but on the other hand one of the team had family in that city. These were real problems that the British military intelligence had to cope with, but they certainly weren't left up to Turing's group to decide. Once Turing's group was able to decode the messages their job was done.
|Apr-19-15|| ||perfidious: <Sneaky> It is of course true that Turing, Welchman, Alexander et al did not begin at the beginning, but their work was of immense importance in the service of their country.|
|Apr-19-15|| ||keypusher: <hemateme>
<It all changed when the Enigma code was broken. Rommel was in the habit of sending out hourly messages to Berlin and Italy, regarding his situations and timetable for battle and supplies. Suddenly the British knew exactly where and when he was going to attack. They knew the delivery times of oil tankers and spare tank parts from Italy, and those boats were duly sunk by the RAF. Without ammunition and enough oil to maneuver, Rommel was slowly ground down,>
That sounds like a load of crap, frankly, Two things happened before Rommel started getting beaten: Montgomery took over the army, and the British got hundreds of new tanks. I suspect that had a lot more to do Rommel losing than Enigma -- particularly the new tanks.
I don't think Rommel even knew when tankers were coming in.
|Apr-19-15|| ||HeMateMe: Well, I'm mostly quoting from British historian David Irving's book about Rommel. I've read two other books about 'Hitler's favorite general.' All the books concur in that Rommel was winning against the British 8th army, even when he was outnumbered in men, tanks and planes, until a few things happened: 1)the enigma code was broken, and now his advance battle plans were known by the British high command and 2) The RAF air force was strong in the Mediterranean, and their navy outclassed anything Italy had in the area. This meant that increasing numbers of German supply ships to north Africa were being captured or sunk by England. This occurred on an accelerated basis. You can't fight a war without supplies.|
But, the key point that we seem to be debating is why Rommel was winning--he was simply a better general than Montgomery. Monty was the bonehead who forced Operation Market Garden down the throats of the allied high command, a poorly conceived strategy that got 10,000 men killed or captured, with all of their equipment lost. Rommel was the one whose tank division ran wild in France, during the 40 day defeat of the Third Republic, before being promoted to general.
It might also be that Germany had better tanks for sand use in the early desert war, better than what England had. Maybe the new British tanks were better than what Germany was using, better for warfare on hard sand? Hard to say. I've never heard anyone say that American or British tanks were better than what Germany was using during WWII. Perhaps there was some aspect of desert fighting that made the Brit tanks better for desert fighting? I don't know.
I wasn't implying that cracking enigma was the only factor in Rommel's defeat in North Africa, but it took away his ability to attack with surprise, which had carried the day for a year in North Africa, and drove the Brits almost all the way to Cairo.
You omit to mention that the American landings in north Africa put Rommel in a tight squeeze, and gave him even less room to maneuver. There was a point in North Africa where the Germans were outnumbered 20-1 in manpower. Subsequent victories are really nothing Bernard Law Montgomery should hang his hat on, IMO.
Perhaps the Windsors should have asked their Hohenzollern cousins to let up a bit?
|Apr-19-15|| ||devere: <Sneaky: And the kicker was the scene where Turing and his colleagues had to make a decision as to whether or not to act on decoded message regarding an attack on a English city. The dilemma was that if the Allies prevented the attack the Germans would know that their code was broken, but on the other hand one of the team had family in that city. These were real problems that the British military intelligence had to cope with, but they certainly weren't left up to Turing's group to decide. Once Turing's group was able to decode the messages their job was done.>|
You are correct. That kind of decision was probably made by Winston Churchill.
Alan Turing was one of the primary innovators of computer science, and his name has been memorialized by the Association for Computing Machinery's A.M. Turing Award, which since 1966 has effectively served as the "Nobel Prize" in Computer Science.
|Apr-20-15|| ||Troller: <British historian David Irving> is a known WW2-revisionist. He also denies Holocaust. Luckily for him "historian" is not a protected title, as he never completed any education AFAIK.|
He is knowledgeable on the Nazi Regime, but I would take his analysis with a grain of salt.
|Oct-04-15|| ||Willem Wallekers: His hobbies included chess and running.
Did nobody yet mention his other great invention: <Chess around the House>?
You play chess at a table in the garden of a free standing house.
After each move you run around the house.
Your opponent has to make his move before you're back in your seat.
|May-30-16|| ||wrap99: In a very extensive bio by Hodges, we read that Golombek could give Turing queen odds and win or when Turing had resigned in a position turn the board around and win. The latter is hard to believe but losing at queen odds I think mean Turing was like a 1500 player or worse.|
|May-30-16|| ||Sally Simpson: Hi Sneaky,
Regarding the film yes the bits you mentioned were wrong although the analysts did have some input.
They asked that in some cases that warnings of a coming raid be delayed till after radar picked them up so the Germans would not suspect Bletchley were reading their messages.
The location of the Bismark was known to Bletchley. They asked the Navy to play a charade by sending up spotter planes in the known area so Bismark would message back they had been spotted by luck.
(Page 113. 'The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park')
A good nit pick in the film is Alexander saying he was twice British Chess Champion. True. He won it in 1938 But he did not win his 2nd title till 1956.
But the real sin of the film was having Turing not revealing who the spy was for fear that the spy (as he said he would) would tell the authorities that Turing was gay.
Turing would have been in deadly hot water for not outing the spy. He would certainly have been kicked of the project for being unreliable and unpatriotic. (He would have to do his mandatory two years for King and Country.)
That part of the film and it's dramatic license was a load of baloney.
Regarding the Pardon.
A lot of men were jailed for that 'crime'....where are their posthumous pardons?
|May-30-16|| ||keypusher: <niemzo: Ruben Fine's remarks make you realize what nonsense even intelligent people used to believe in the past. I wonder if things we now hold as common sense will seem so bizarre to future generations.>|
Yes, of course. Unfortunately it will be the wrong things that will be seen as bizarre.
<sneaky> <sally>. I'm sure there was a lot of nonsense in the movie. I really doubt Alexander tried to take an axe to Turing's computer.
|May-30-16|| ||wrap99: <keypusher> read the book movie was based on, didn't see anything about an axe and given that they were both on a top-priority military project, damaging equipment like that might have gotten you hanged.|
|May-31-16|| ||HeMateMe: Were the prospective employees really quizzed by seeing how fast they can do the London Times crossword puzzle?|
|May-31-16|| ||offramp: They were shut in a room with a complete set of Where's Wally books. |
First one out got the job.
|May-31-16|| ||HeMateMe: Well heck, even I could have ended up with an MBE.|
|May-31-16|| ||Sally Simpson: Tommy Flowers, son of a brick layer, his name should really be more well known. Without him Turing & company would never have got very far. He built the first computer.|
|Jun-01-16|| ||HeMateMe: I thought the original machine that could break codes like Enigma was built by researchers in Poland, five years before Bletchley Park got to work?|
|Jun-01-16|| ||Catfriend: <HMM> You're talking about the Bomba:
This was indeed built in Poland - but it wasn't a computer. It was a special-purpose machine, as opposed to the programmable Colossus.
|Jun-01-16|| ||HeMateMe: There's a TV show, maybe done by the BBC, that chronicles a fictional Bletchley Park type group, I think largely female, code breakers, set in the 1940s or '50s. It is available on Netflix. Does this show originate in England? Has anyone seen it? I saw an ad for it, but never looked at any of it.|
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