Alan Turing big data research lab gets multi-million injection

UK announces funding for big data institute named in memory of computing pioneer and WWII code-breaker Alan Turing.

UK's big-data research institute named after computing pioneer and WWII code-breaker Alan Turing. Image: Wikipedia

The UK government is putting up £42m ($70m) to create a big-data research institute named after computing pioneer and WWII code-breaker Alan Turing.

The aim of the new national institute, announced by chancellor George Osborne in Wednesday's Budget, is to enable the country to lead the way in big-data science, with UK businesses reaping the benefits.

Osborne said the institute will undertake research into the collection, organisation and analysis of large sets of data. It will bear the name of Turing, who had done "more than almost any other single person to win the war, and who was persecuted for his sexuality by the country he helped save".

Turing received a posthumous Royal Pardon last year, having been convicted of indecency in 1952. He committed suicide in 1954.

"Now, in his honour, we will found the Alan Turing Institute to ensure Britain leads the way again in the use of big data and algorithm research," Osborne said.

"I am determined that our country is going to out-compete, outsmart and outdo the rest of the world."

Turing is known as the father of modern computing. Years before the onset of the information age, he conceived what he called a "universal machine", a theoretical model of how computation takes place that inspired the pioneers who created the modern digital computer.

The UK Treasury's report said the four-year investment in the institute will focus on big-data analysis to help businesses enhance manufacturing processes, target marketing, and provide more efficient services.

It is also investing £74m ($123m) over five years in a graphene innovation centre and cell therapy manufacturing centre as part of the UK’s Catapult network.

"These will enable large-scale manufacturing of cell therapies for late-stage clinical trials, and will provide SMEs with access to cutting-edge equipment for research and development of novel graphene products."

An artificial-intelligence research laboratory called the Turing Institute existed at Glasgow University between 1983 and 1994.

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