Quite often a branch of mathematics is discovered before it is appreciated that it is of use in the real world. This happened with the computer.

In August 1900, in Paris, at the start of a new century, David Hilbert, one of the world’s leading mathematicians, listed 23 outstanding problems in mathematics. These included questions regarding the foundations of mathematics and whether specific problems were soluble. In 1928 he made one of his questions more specific: to determine whether there was some definite system that, in principle, could decide the truth of any mathematical assertion.

In April 1936, at Cambridge, a student named Alan Turing handed to his lecturer, Max Newman, a paper: On Computable Numbers. This answered Hilbert’s question in the negative: no such all embracing system exists.

But in the process of this abstract mathematical proof, Turing analysed the concepts of computing and showed that what could be calculated by a human computer could also be calculated by a machine. His theoretical machine -

This moment may be considered to have launched AGE OF THE COMPUTER!

David Hilbert