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ata mining history starts with Alan Turing. Computer science and computing as people know it can trace back to the work of one genius mathematician during WWII. Alan Turing not only sparked the invention of the computer but also laid the groundwork for artificial intelligence.

What Did Alan Turing Do?

Alan Turing is widely regarded as the father of computer science. Born in 1912, he pioneered the foundations of computing while helping the Allies crack German codes during WWII.

The Axis powers had a critical advantage over the Allies in WWII due to their “enigma machines,” devices that could create highly complex codes for sending encrypted messages. Turing applied his knowledge of mathematics to cracking these codes at Bletchley Park, the famous British code-breaking center. This breakthrough helped the Allies win the war, with modern historians estimating that it saved millions of lives.

After the war ended, Turing continued his work on a concept he’d started developing in 1936 — Turing machines. A Turing machine is a hypothetical model for a basic computer capable of doing anything a modern computer can. It even used 1s and 0s, just like the binary code modern computers are based on. A Turing machine would be extremely inefficient at computing the kinds of programs people run on computers today, but it would be possible.

The idea behind the Turing machine was to predict or estimate what can and cannot be computed. Today, humans still use computers to make predictions like this. Turing’s work on his early computers led him to pioneer the field of artificial intelligence, as well. In fact, the famous “Turing Test” for true artificial intelligence is named after him.

The Birth of Data Mining

What did Alan Turing do for data mining? When he was alive, the concept of data mining and electronic databases did not exist yet. However, Turing’s work laid the groundwork for data mining and its applications in artificial intelligence.

Data Mining Definition

The definition of data mining is analyzing data sets to identify patterns, conclusions, and anomalies. Imagine a data set is a tunnel made of rock. By physically mining that rock, data scientists can find valuable gold and minerals buried within. Data mining is central to building AI models, which rely on the ability to detect and understand patterns.

None of this would be possible without Alan Turing’s work. He figured out how to apply mathematical concepts to code-breaking – that is, pattern recognition.

Data Mining History Timeline

Modern data mining is used in everything from medicine to education to marketing. It involves using a five-step process to take a raw data set, process it, and return conclusions and patterns found in the data. The widespread use of data mining today speaks to the impact of Alan Turing on history.

1763: The Bayes Theorem

Turing’s invention of the hypothetical Turing machine in 1936 is the genesis of computing, but two key concepts behind data mining preceded it. In 1763, Bayes’s Theorem was published, outlining a mathematical process for determining probability. The theorem was invented by British minister and mathematician Thomas Bayes but wasn’t published until after his death. It is still in use today.

1805: Statistical Regression

A few decades later, in 1805, German physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss published the first known use of statistical regression, an essential technique used in data mining today. Gauss applied regression to a method for mapping the orbits of objects circling the Sun, such as planets. The discovery of statistical regression was so monumental that it sparked a heated rivalry between Gauss and French mathematician Adrien-Marie Legendre.

1944: Neural Networks

The next big breakthrough in the history of data science was Turing’s invention of modern computing. American neuroscientists Walter Pitts and Warren McCullouch followed Turing’s initial concepts of computing and AI with the creation of neural networks. The two scientists originally proposed the idea of a neural network in 1944 at the crossroads of computer science and neuroscience. Like Turing, they applied how humans think to develop new computing methods.

The 1960s Through Present: Modern Computing

Computers slowly became more complex and capable through the second half of the 20th century. For instance, IBM invented computers that could do high-level mathematical computations, including the math that helped get American astronauts to the Moon in the 1960s. The term data mining only emerged in the 1990s, although the idea of using data to make predictions for business and other fields was popular throughout the 1980s.

Today, there is data science, deep learning, and AI that can perform incredible feats. Data mining is vital to advances in many fields, from sports to medicine. However, to this day,  AI has yet to pass the famous Turing Test, the point at which an AI cannot be discerned from a real person.

Alan Turing’s Role in Data Mining History

The impact of Alan Turing in history can be felt every time someone uses a computer. His work forms the foundation of data mining history in particular. Thanks to the development of Turing machines, people have modern computers that can play games, search for information, create movies, and chat with AI bots. Alan Turing indeed was the father of data mining and computer science.

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