University of Bath

Unpublished patterns of thought: Alan Turing's last work on morphogenesis

Prof Jonathan Dawes will show how unpublished archive material contains the genesis of Turing's original ideas on mathematical modelling of biological problems.

8 Feb 20175.15pm
to
8 Feb 20177.00pm
Free

Alan Turing (1912 to 1954) is best known for his work in the foundations of computing and his codebreaking activities. The last three years of his life were, however, devoted to the mathematical modelling of biological problems, and the question of the spontaneous emergence of biological structure.

In this lecture Professor Dawes will explain why Turing’s only publication on that subject (subsequently cited over 5,000 times) is not sufficient to understand the full extent of his thinking, and he will show how unpublished archive material contains the genesis of original ideas, lost and subsequently re-discovered, that have driven the last 60 years of work in the area.

It is also notable that Turing’s work was carried out separately from, and in parallel with, related developments in fluid mechanics.

The lecture will then bring the story up to date with examples of the unexpected complexity of these simple mathematical models, and their possible applications across the sciences.

This event is part of our public Minerva lecture series.