Alan Turing, World War Two codebreaker and mathematician, will be the face of new Bank of England £50 note

15 Iul 2019 | by Danielle Hastings

Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England's £50 note. The £50 note will be the last of the Bank of England collection to switch from paper to polymer when it enters circulation by the end of 2021.

  • Alan Turing, World War Two codebreaker and mathematician, will be the face of new Bank of England £50 note

"Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today," said Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

"As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as a war hero, Alan Turing's contributions were far ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand."

The work of Alan Turing, who was educated in Sherborne, Dorset, helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine.

Less celebrated is the pivotal role he played in the development of early computers, first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester.

His work helped cement the concept of the algorithm - the set of instructions used to perform computations - that are at the heart of our relationship with computers today. He was also a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence: one of his best known achievements in this field is the Turing Test, which aims to measure whether a machine is "intelligent

In 2013, he was given a posthumous royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for gross indecency following which he was chemically castrated. He had been arrested after having an affair with a 19-year-old Manchester man.

The Bank asked the public to offer suggestions for the scientist whose portrait should appear on the £50 note. In six weeks, the Bank received 227,299 nominations covering 989 eligible scientists.

The shortlisted characters, or pairs of characters, considered were: Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Stephen Hawking, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Sanger and Alan Turing.

The debate over representation on the Bank's notes could resurface after this decision.

Jane Austen will continue to be the only woman, apart from the Queen, whose image will be seen on the four notes.

There are still 344 million £50 notes in circulation, with a combined value of £17.2bn, according to the Bank of England's banknote circulation figures.