[SIGCIS-Members] UW names street after Bletchley Park code-breaker
brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Thu May 11 03:39:39 PDT 2017
A press release I’ve just spotted:
> WATERLOO — The University of Waterloo is honouring a pre-eminent mathematician and wartime code-breaker, naming the street that runs between its math buildings after William Tutte.
> The British-born Tutte's work at Bletchley Park, Britain's top-secret code-breaking organization, helped changed the course of the Second World War and has been called "the greatest intellectual feat" of the war.
> But Tutte, a brilliant mathematician who helped establish the reputation of the university's mathematics faculty, was sworn to secrecy about his wartime work, which only came to light in the late 1990s, when he was 80.
> After the war, Tutte became a professor at the University of Toronto, then moved to the fledgling University of Waterloo in 1962. As a star in his field, he was able to attract some of the brightest minds to Waterloo and its faculty of mathematics, where he was a professor in the Combinatorics and Optimization Department for more than 30 years. He was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2001.
> "It's only being recognized now that his contributions were probably greater than any other code breaker" at Bletchley Park, said Daniel Younger, a professor emeritus in the university's math department who was Tutte's longtime friend.
> Tutte came to Bletchley Park in 1941. Unlike the better-known decoders of the famous Enigma machine, Tutte did not have a machine to work with. Instead, using only samples of coded messages, he managed to deduce the machine that could produce such messages, how such a machine would work and what it would look like.
> He then went on to describe how to crack the codes the machine produced, developing algorithms so complex that Bletchley engineers built Colossus, widely considered to be the first electronic computer, to execute Tutte's algorithms.
> Cracking the Lorenz code helped changed the course of the war because the Lorenz machine was the one Hitler used to send messages to his top generals in the field. Tutte's work helped turn the Battle of Kursk, powered the D-Day landings and likely shortened the Second World War.
> The naming ceremony takes place Friday as part of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Mathematics, and coincides with what would have been Tutte's 100th birthday this Sunday.
> The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the David Centre with a talk by Younger about Tutte's many achievements and his contributions to mathematics, followed by the sign ceremony at noon and a screening at 1 p.m. of the 2011 BBC documentary, "Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes" about Tutte and his Bletchley colleague Tommy Flowers, who developed the Colossus computer.
> For more information on Tutte and his work, go to uwaterloo.ca/combinatorics-and-optimization/about/professor-william-t-tutte
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