Turing by Christos H. Papadimitriou
(A Novel about Computation)

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Our hero is Turing, an interactive tutoring program and namesake (or virtual
emanation?) of Alan Turing, World War II code breaker and father of computer science. In this
unusual novel, Turing's idiosyncratic version of intellectual history from a computational point of
view unfolds in tandem with the story of a love affair involving Ethel, a successful computer
executive, Alexandros, a melancholy archaeologist, and Ian, a charismatic hacker. After Ethel (who
shares her first name with Alan Turing's mother) abandons Alexandros following a sundrenched idyll
on Corfu, Turing appears on Alexandros's computer screen to unfurl a tutorial on the history of
ideas. He begins with the philosopher-mathematicians of ancient Greece -- "discourse, dialogue,
argument, proof... can only thrive in an egalitarian society" -- and the Arab scholar in
ninth-century Baghdad who invented algorithms; he moves on to many other topics, including
cryptography and artificial intelligence, even economics and developmental biology. (These lessons
are later critiqued amusingly and developed further in postings by a fictional newsgroup in the
book's afterword.) As Turing's lectures progress, the lives of Alexandros, Ethel, and Ian converge
in dramatic fashion, and the story takes us from Corfu to Hong Kong, from Athens to San Francisco --
and of course to the Internet, the disruptive technological and social force that emerges as the
main locale and protagonist of the novel.Alternately pedagogical and romantic, Turing (A Novel about
Computation) should appeal both to students and professionals who want a clear and entertaining
account of the development of computation and to the general reader who enjoys novels of


About Christos H. Papadimitriou

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Peter J. Newell is Professor of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia. He has published widely on the political economy of the environment, including the books Climate for Change (2000), The Effectiveness of EU Environmental Policy (2000), co-authored with Wyn Grant and Duncan Matthews, Development and the Challenge of Globalisation (2002), co-edited with Shirin M. Rai and Andrew Scott. He currently works on issues of corporate regulation and accountability and the politics of GMO regulation.
Published October 10, 2003 by The MIT Press. 296 pages
Genres: History, Computers & Technology, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The nonhuman character is Turing, an advanced interactive program (named for Alan Turing, a pioneer of computing) that comes to Alexandros’ screen to instruct him (and occasionally his teenaged daughter) in the history and philosophical implications of computer science.

Nov 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Turing (A Novel about Computa...

Publishers Weekly

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The "novel" part of this ungainly novel of ideas explores a love triangle connecting software executive Ethel, aging but unreliable archeologist Alexandros (who annoys Ethel by ogling topless women at the beach) and outlaw hacker Ian (with whom Ethel enjoys a torrid virtual-reality affair).

Oct 20 2003 | Read Full Review of Turing (A Novel about Computa...

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