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Our hero is Turing, an interactive tutoring program and namesake (orvirtual emanation?) of Alan Turing, World War II code breaker and father of computerscience. In this unusual novel, Turing's idiosyncratic version of intellectualhistory from a computational point of view unfolds in tandem with the story of alove affair involving Ethel, a successful computer executive, Alexandros, amelancholy archaeologist, and Ian, a charismatic hacker. After Ethel (who shares herfirst name with Alan Turing's mother) abandons Alexandros following a sundrenchedidyll on Corfu, Turing appears on Alexandros's computer screen to unfurl a tutorialon the history of ideas. He begins with the philosopher-mathematicians of ancientGreece -- "discourse, dialogue, argument, proof... can only thrive in an egalitariansociety" -- and the Arab scholar in ninth-century Baghdad who invented algorithms;he moves on to many other topics, including cryptography and artificialintelligence, even economics and developmental biology. (These lessons are latercritiqued amusingly and developed further in postings by a fictional newsgroup inthe 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 toHong Kong, from Athens to San Francisco -- and of course to the Internet, thedisruptive technological and social force that emerges as the main locale andprotagonist of the novel.Alternately pedagogical and romantic, Turing (A Novel aboutComputation) should appeal both to students and professionals who want a clear andentertaining account of the development of computation and to the general reader whoenjoys novels of ideas.

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