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Never-before-seen handwritten Turing manuscript up for auction

A 56-page notebook in which the computer scientist and mathematical genius worked on the foundations of computing will fall under the hammer in April.

Alan Turing. National Portrait Gallery, London

Mathematician Alan Turing had one of the most extraordinary minds in history. His codebreaking efforts were absolutely crucial to the Allied war effort, and his work in computer science was foundational to the field.

As you might then expect, his original work is both rare and highly prized -- and it is just such a work, never before seen by the public, that will be up for auction as part of Bonhams' Fine Books & Manuscripts sale in New York on April 13, 2015.

The 56-page volume is a simple notebook as could be found in any stationers at the time -- around 1942, when Turing was working at Bletchley Park trying to break the Enigma Code -- but inside is the most extensive handwritten Turing manuscript in existence.

The contents of the book -- left among papers willed to his close friend, fellow mathematician Robin Gandy -- contain key work laying down the foundations of mathematical notation and computer science.

Gandy left most of Turing's papers at the Archive Centre at King's College, Cambridge in 1977, but reserved this one volume for himself. In the blank pages in the centre of the notebook, Gandy had written his highly personal dream journal, disguising it in Turing's work.

"It seems a suitable disguise to write in between these notes of Alan's on notation, but possibly a little sinister; a dead father figure, some of whose thoughts I most completely inherited," Gandy wrote.

Of Turing's writings, leading Turing scholar Andrew Hodges said, "Alan Turing was parsimonious with his words and everything from his pen has special value. This notebook shines extra light on how, even when he was enmeshed in great world events, he remained committed to free-thinking work in pure mathematics."

The volume is expected to fetch at least seven figures, a portion of which will be donated to charity.

A snippet from the notebook. "The Leibniz notation dy/dx I find extremely difficult to understand in spite of it having been the one I understood the best once! It certainly implies that some relation between x and y has been laid down eg, y=x2 3x" Bonhams