As hard-pressed universities axe abstract study, the codebreaker’s great niece and top mathematicians are fighting back
Almost exactly 80 years ago, British codebreakers made a crucial breakthrough. Using methods developed by the mathematical genius of Alan Turing, they were able to decipher the Enigma code that the Nazis were using on the eastern front in the second world war, gaining another crucial advantage for the allies.
Yet even as Turing’s contribution has begun to be accorded its proper importance, there are growing concerns among Britain’s most prominent mathematicians – and Turing’s own family – that a search for the Turings and Newtons of the future is being dented by declining opportunities to study pure mathematics.
They say pure maths departments have found themselves under threat as universities grapple with their finances and focus on more applied versions of the subject. Meanwhile, a focus on computing and artificial intelligence has, they argue, led to a downgrading of the study of pure maths that Turing defined as a heady mixture of “intuition and ingenuity”.
“My family are all so proud of the legacy of Alan Turing and he is now even on the £50 note,” said Rachel Barnes, Turing’s great-niece. “To honour that legacy we must keep funding and supporting pure maths – the subject at which my great uncle excelled and which was the bedrock his achievements were built on. I believe it is vital that young people who show a talent for pure maths should be able to study it at its highest level at university. This will keep our country leading in the area of mathematics and also science.”
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/jul/11/pure-folly-turing-family-join-fight-to-save-blue-skies-maths-from-neglect?utm_content=buffer23b3b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer