Friday, July 29, 2016

The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded

The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded
By Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis (Illustrator)
Harry N. Abrams, 2016. 240 pgs. Graphic Novel

This is a graphic novel biography of English mathematician and scientist Alan Turing.  He is credited with many of the foundation principles of contemporary computer science, and is noted for his groundbreaking work on the fundamentals of cryptography and artificial intelligence.  This graphic novel does an excellent job of illustrating some of Turing's important work in a visual and comprehensible way, making it more accessible to the average reader.  Also fascinating is the recounting of Turing's code breaking efforts during World War II that led to the cracking of the German Enigma.  This book goes a bit beyond the film of the same name, documenting his arrest and trial for his openly gay lifestyle.  It's a riveting yet tragic story.

I enjoyed the film but was even more amazed when this book made clear that Turing forged the path for the basic computing that we use every day, and also explained it in a way that I could understand.  The narrative was told from the perspectives of multiple people in his life, which broke up the story a bit, but ultimately the reader walks away with a good appreciation for the man and the extraordinary details of his life and genius.


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