The Way of the Force in Software Engineering: The Beginning

  The Way of the Force in

Software Engineering: The Beginning

Jeferson L. R. Souza

February 7, 2022


In this new project called “The way of the Force in Software Engineering” Jeferson Souza (thejefecomp), Founder, Writer, and all in between of the NeartWord project (, and Independent Software Engineer Consultant at his personal company called NeartWord, starts a new quest of sharing knowledge related to his expertise and experience both in software development, and associated areas cross-cutting the Computer Science field. Collaboration instead of Competition was his main motivation to think about starting this project, which means declaring himself as an “Independent Software Engineering Consultant” an act of libera- tion from the standard way to see a person as a worker of a given project, instead of being a fundamental wheel moving it indepen- dently, and collaboratively. Posts would be written in a “paper-like" style, and the language would be as neutral as it is possible to touch a public from different backgrounds, and levels of expertise in both Software Engineering and Computer Science. “The Way of the Force in Software Engineering: The Beginning” addresses the brilliant and inspiring mind of who has been considered the father of modern computer, and therefore, Computer Science itself: Alan M. TuringMay the force be with you...Enjoy the read!

Keywords: Computer Science, World War II, Alan Turing, Software Engineering, Collaboration.

1. Introduction

The starting of a new quest is not an easy task to accomplish, as it is evolved into a bit of effort to do so. The author has a special taste about the results coming out in “The Way of The Force in Software Engineering”, as posts would be [essentially] compilations of technical work, mixed with a bit of personal style in the way things are presented, and explained.

Thus, we could not start such a new quest out of touching the roots of Computer Science, revisiting a bit of the history surrounding one of the most brilliant mind of all time: Alan Mathison Turing, well-known as Turing, who is considered the father of modern computer, and therefore, Computer Science itself, besides being also the visionary of Artificial Intelligence [2].

1.1 Why do We Start with Alan M. Turing and not John von Neumann?

Besides the huge importance of both for the creation and evolution of the Computer Science field, the choice of Alan M. Turing is related to his life’s history of discrimination, as stated in the following passage [6]:

“Like any homosexual man, he was living an imitation game, not in the sense of conscious play-acting, but by being accepted as a person that he was not. The others thought they knew him well, as in conventional terms they did; but they did not perceive the difficulty that faced him as an individualist jarring with the reality of the world. He had to find himself as a homosexual in a society doing its best to crush homosexuality out of existence; and less acute, though equally persistent as a problem in his life, he had to fit into an academic system that did not suit his particular line of thought. In both cases, his autonomous self-hood had to be compromised and infringed.”.

2. The Rise of Modern Computers

We cannot ignore the huge progress Sir. Alan M. Turing has provided with the game-change of his scientific contributions, which have started describing the mathematical properties of what we call a computer in the present moment, year 2022 [11]. Turing was a visionary, with a mind ahead of his time, young and brilliant in describing what a “computable number is”, as reproduced here as follows [12]:

“The “computable” numbers may be described briefly as the real numbers whose expressions as a decimal are calculable by finite means.”.

By following such a wonderful description, we are able to realise and under- stand that computers make any computation to get a result in the domain of natural numbers, i.e., countable, finite, and non-negative. As a consequence of that restricted domain, when continuity has to be represented by the use of a real number, its decimal part is computed in a finite way, implying the representation of a real number in separated terms, i.e., both natural and decimal parts accordingly, and separately. Sir. Turing, with the beauty of his words published in 1936, and based on the aforementioned description, has also made clear the composability of his contributions, presenting the “low-level” domain a computer would work on in his vision, and stating his inspiration on top of the observed behaviour of a human memory, which seems to be limited, and therefore finite [13].

At the stage of Turing’s seminal paper, a computer was only a vision of the future, described by a tape and a computing entity, which the behaviour is dictated by a set of configurations defining the finite states it can reach. The computing machine, as Sir. Turing has named it, works with just two types of symbol {0,1}, moving its computing entity along the tape, writing and reading one of those symbols according to the provided configuration; being, therefore, an automatic machine by its grounded definition [14].

As part of those configurations, besides reading and writing symbols to a tape, it is also possible to erase an existing symbol, or replace it by another one associated with the current reached state, defining the behaviour present by what was called the Turing’s machine, which the tape is illustrated in Fig. 1.

Figure 1: Turing’s Machine Tape Representation

Taking advantage of using symbols of the binary code, i.e. {0,1}, the Turing’s machine is able to represent any kind of information that can be translated to a number, which the preference lies on the use of a natural one. As an example of understanding, the most of the symbols we read in a text written in the English language, such as this one, can be represented by numbers within one of the most famous set of codes designed to support information exchange, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). A computer “sees” a letter we recognise the form, and the visual pattern, as just a number, with words being a finite sequence of those numbers, one after another. To get a sense about what the ASCII is, Table 1 presents a portion of the available codes present on the ASCII table.

Table 1: A portion of the available codes on the ASCII table

3. Turing, Gestapo, and The World War II

Sir. Alan M. Turing was a fundamental pice of the puzzle to end up the World War II, which was marked by huge discriminatory acts, the promotion of the segregation of society, the proliferation of the hatred culture, and the return of a negative trace of a human being: harming another by the pure feeling of pleasure to see a person struggling [10; 5].

Before 1938, it was also a common practise of the Nazis, promoted by the Intelligence division called Gestapo, removing the Jews from the society by the minimum use of violence, applying economic measures to force them to leave the areas they have settled down, initially, in the city. The application of such measures was celebrated by the Gestapo division as clear stated in the next passage [10]:

“A Gestapo report of September 1935, while noting with satisfaction that “Jews are being forced socially and economically into isolation, cautioned that public acts of violence, such as breaking windows and drawing graffiti on house fronts, should be avoided. Indeed, the Gestapo demanded that the Kreisleiter (district leaders) stop individual attacks against Jews and discouraged any posters and signs directed against the Jews.1 Economic boycotts were encouraged, but the Nazis decided that German society in 1935 was not yet ready for widespread, open acts of violence, even though some, of course, took place. The amount and severity of violence depended on individual Nazi leaders and the degree of anti-Semitism they harbored.”.

But discrimination, and segregation of society was not a privilege of the Nazi’s side, and Alan M. Turing is the clear example of that. Sir. Alan M. Turing has felt at the deep of his bones how hard was a life of a person with no liberty to choose sexual orientation, with homosexuality being considered a mental disorder at the time after the World War II [1], and the commitment of a crime when two man lay together for sexual intercourse [7].

Ignoring both scientific contributions, and the creation of a machine able to decrypt Nazis’ encrypted codes, which has been pointed as the responsible for shortening the duration of the World War II, Alan M. Turing has been considered guilty of homosexuality [7]. In order “to cure” his “abnormal condition of being homosexual”, Alan M. Turing has been submitted to a humiliating drugs-based treatment, a “chemical castration” to revert his declared homosexual condition, as he has been considered a sexual ofender criminal, imposed to the negative consequences of his “criminal activities” as described in the next passage [8]:

“For Alan, there were rather different consequences of the trial, because of the drug treatment. He was rendered impotent, although scientific opinion was that the impotence was not permanent and potency would return when the medication was stopped.”.

Unfortunately, following such persecution of Alan M. Turing uniqueness, Andrew Hodges, the author of the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma", has pointed Sir. Turing has committed suicide in 1954, ending the life of one of the most brilliant minds of all time.

Besides the fact of Turing’s death, we have to remember that two years before, in 1952, homosexuality has been considered a mental disorder, and listed in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) [1]. Only in 1973, after the pressure of society, homosexuality was removed from DSM, and considered a mental disorder no more [4; 9].

The hero helping allies to defeat the Nazi’s regime, and ending up the World War II, was submitted to a discriminatory regime, with little or no dignity, even with a brilliant mind ahead of his time.

Fortunately, later in 2013, Alan M. Turing has received the Royal pardon by Queen Elizabeth II for his “crime” [3].

4. Final Remarks

In this first post we could see that no single person, even a war hero such as Alan M. Turing, is free from discrimination. Working with disciplines related to Software Engineering is not different. There are different ways to achieve the same result, different technologies with the same purpose, and different approaches to draw correctly the same concept.

The discussion in Software Engineering and related disciplines, the best practises, what is good or not, should not have room for discrimination but collaboration among the different parts. The Nazi’s regime, racism, differences of race, gender, religion, or even opinions are things we have to be aware about, and deal with our way, observing sometimes that the cruelty of humanity is clear and before our eyes.

What we have to remember anytime, anywhere, and at any circumstances is that: knowledge is strengthened when created to help and shared, being Collaboration instead of Competition a way to achieve that.


[1] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), American Psychiatric Association (APA), Washington, DC, USA, 1952.

[2] Jonathan P. Bowen, Alan Turing: Founder of Computer Science, Engineering Trustworthy Software Systems: Second International School, SETSS 2016, Chongqing, China, March 28 - April 2, 2016, Tutorial Lectures (Jonathan P. Bowen, Zhiming Liu, and Zili Zhang, eds.), Springer International Publishing, Apr 2017.

[3] _______, Alan Turing: Founder of Computer Science, Engineering Trustworthy Software Systems: Second International School, SETSS 2016, Chongqing, China, March 28 - April 2, 2016, Tutorial Lectures (Jonathan P. Bowen, Zhiming Liu, and Zili Zhang, eds.), Springer International Publishing, Apr 2017, p. 12.

[4] Jack Drescher, Out of DSM: Depathologizing Homosexuality, Behavioral Sciences 5 (2015), no. 4, pp. 565–566.

[5] Peter Fritzche, The Life and Death in the Third Reich, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008, pp. 76–77.

[6] Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Random House, 2012, pp. 163–164.

[7] _______, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Random House, 2012, pp. 574–577.

[8] _______, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Random House, 2012, p. 596.

[9] Charles Silverstein, The Implications of Removing Homosexuality from the DSM as a Mental Disorder, Arch Sex Behav. 38 (2009), no. 2, p. 161.

[10] Frederic C. Tubach, German Voices: Memories of Life During Hitler's Third Reich / Frederic C. Tubach with Sally Patterson Tubach., University of California Press, 2011, pp. 60–61.

[11] Alan M. Turing, On Computable Numbers, with An Application to the Entscheidungs Problem, Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. 42 (1936), no. 2.

[12] _______, On Computable Numbers, with An Application to the Entscheidungs Problem, Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. 42 (1936), no. 2, p. 230.

[13] _______, On Computable Numbers, with An Application to the Entscheidungs Problem, Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. 42 (1936), no. 2, p. 231.

[14] _______, On Computable Numbers, with An Application to the Entscheidungs Problem, Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. 42 (1936), no. 2, p. 232.

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