The Turing Guide: Life, Work, Legacy

(with Jack Copeland, Jonathan Bowen & Robin Wilson)

2017   Oxford University Press: Oxford, 576 pp.

Last updated 5 April 2016

Alan Turing has long proved a subject of fascination, but following the centenary of his birth in 2012, the code-breaker, computer pioneer, mathematician (and much more) has become even more celebrated with much media coverage, and several meetings, conferences and books raising public awareness of Turing’s life and work.

This volume brings together contributions from some of the leading experts on Alan Turing to create a comprehensive guide to Turing that will serve as a useful resource for researchers in the area as well as the increasingly interested general reader. The book covers aspects of Turing’s life and the wide range of his intellectual activities, including mathematics, code-breaking, computer science, logic, artificial intelligence and mathematical biology, as well as his subsequent influence.

The Turing Guide is divided into eight main parts, covering various aspects of Alan Turing’s life and work. The book includes a foreword by Andrew Hodges, preface, notes on the contributors, endnotes, and an index.


This is a welcome addition to the existing generally accessible literature that gives additional testimony of the brilliant mind of Alan Turing. There is historical as well as technical material that will be appreciated also by specialists whatever their discipline: history, mathematics, biology, computer science, or philosophy.

– Adhemar Bultheel, The European Mathematical Society

The Turing Guide is an important and valuable contribution to our understanding of an extraordinary scientist and the profound and lasting resonances of his work. The essays are deeply researched, well written, and cogently argued, and the book itself is beautifully produced and amply illustrated.


Splendidly produced and lavishly illustrated with photographs, drawings and diagrams, the volume is a valuable source not only of high-level, in-depth, wide-ranging articles but also of rare primary sources from the crucial period in the history of science.

– Carla Petrocelli, Nuncius

Offers new perspectives, many photos not in the larger volume, and even new topics for consideration, such as one essay titled “Turing and the Paranormal”. It is a welcome addition to the Turing literature… Highly recommended.


But The Turing Guide, by Jack Copeland, Jonathan Bowen, Mark Sprevak and Robin Wilson, has opened up a universe of Turing’s other pursuits I knew nothing about, inflating my admiration for him and his work by several orders of magnitude. I doubt that there exists a more complete book about Turing’s life and work. A towering figure in the history of computing, but also in history itself, we come to know Turing with a completeness unattained by any preceding work.

Physics World

A handful of the Guide’s 33 contributors worked at Bletchley and knew Turing personally. Their reminiscences can be fascinating, funny, even moving. … But it is, I think, pretty much the last word on the subject. And it will ensure that while we may never decode the whole of Turing’s mind, his name will never again be forgotten.

– Andrew Robinson, New Scientist

With The Turing Guide, a thick and extensively illustrated new take on combining these different elements, Oxford University Press has struck the right formula. Breaking the story into several sections allows readers to cherry-pick the bits that are of interest to them, either running through from start to finish or sticking to the biographical chapters and using the pointers to sections which go into more technical depth as they wish.

E&T Magazine

Excellent compendium of essays

– AA Reviews

The Turing Guide is just as its title suggests, a remarkably broad-ranging compendium of Alan Turing’s lifetime contributions. Credible and comprehensive, it is a rewarding exploration of a man, who in his life was appropriately revered and unfairly reviled.

– Vint Cerf, American Internet pioneer

An excellent compendium of essays covering Alan Turing’s life and work, covering everything from his childhood to his final days, from the universal machine to cracking the Enigma, from artificial intelligence to morphogenesis.

– Simon Singh, author of Fermat’s Last Theorem and The Code Book

Turing was a genius who helped shorten the war though his extraordinary solutions to the Enigma and Tunny machines ciphers that the Germans were using … We owe him a huge debt.

– Stephen Fry

The Turing Guide provides a superb collection of articles written from numerous different perspectives, of the life, times, profound ideas, and enormous heritage of Alan Turing and those around him. We find, here, numerous accounts, both personal and historical, of this great and eccentric man, whose life was both tragic and triumphantly influential.

– Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford

There is excellent material on the various aspects of Alan Turing’s wide range of contributions – I recommend The Turing Guide

Formal Aspects of Computing



  1. Life and work – Jack Copeland and Jonathan Bowen

  2. The man with the terrible trousers – Sir John Dermot Turing

  3. Meeting a genius – Peter Hilton

  4. Crime and punishment – Jack Copeland

The universal machine and beyond

  1. A century of Turing – Stephen Wolfram

  2. Turing’s great invention: The universal computing machine – Jack Copeland

  3. Hilbert and his famous problem – Jack Copeland

  4. Turing and the origins of digital computers – Brian Randell


  1. At Bletchley Park – Jack Copeland

  2. The Enigma machine – Joel Greenberg

  3. Breaking machines with a pencil – Mavis Batey

  4. Bombes – Jack Copeland, with Jean Valentine and Catherine Caughey

  5. Introducing Banburismus – Edward Simpson

  6. Tunny, Hitler’s biggest fish – Jack Copeland

  7. We were the world’s first computer operators – Eleanor Ireland

  8. The Testery: breaking Hitler’s most secret code – Jerry Roberts

  9. Ultra revelations – Brian Randell

  10. Delilah - encrypting speech – Jack Copeland

  11. Turing’s Monument – Simon Greenish, Jonathan Bowen, and Jack Copeland

Computers after the war

  1. Baby – Jack Copeland

  2. ACE – Martin Campbell-Kelly

  3. Turing’s Zeitgeist – Brian E. Carpenter and Robert W. Doran

  4. Computer music – Jack Copeland and Jason Long

  5. Turing, Lovelace, and Babbage – Doron Swade

Artificial intelligence and the mind

  1. Intelligent machinery – Jack Copeland

  2. Turing’s model of the mind – Mark Sprevak

  3. The Turing test - from every angle – Diane Proudfoot

  4. Turing’s concept of intelligence – Diane Proudfoot

  5. Connectionism: computing with neurons – Jack Copeland and Diane Proudfoot

  6. Child machines – Diane Proudfoot

  7. Computer chess - the first moments – Jack Copeland and Dani Prinz

  8. Turing and the paranormal – David Leavitt

Biological growth

  1. Pioneer of artificial life – Margaret Boden

  2. Turing’s theory of morphogenesis – Thomas E. Woolley, Ruth Baker, and Philip Maini

  3. Radiolaria: validating the Turing theory – Bernard Richards


  1. Introducing Turing’s mathematics – Robin Whitty and Robin Wilson

  2. Decidability and the Entscheidungsproblem – Robin Whitty

  3. Banburismus revisited: Depths and Bayes – Edward Simpson

  4. Turing and randomness – Rod Downey

  5. Turing’s mentor, Max Newman – Ivor Grattan-Guinness


  1. Is the whole universe a computer? – Jack Copeland, Oron Shagrir, and Mark Sprevak

  2. Turing’s legacy – Jonathan Bowen