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A Turing number (TN) is a set of digits or characters that are presented in a Web page or other online location in order to help prove authentication for human end users. The basic idea is that the Turing number can only be effectively seen by a human as opposed to a spider or Web crawler. Therefore, the correct entry of this combination can legitimize human access to part of a site.
This type of authentication is called a Turing number because of the work of Alan Turing, a pioneer in artificial intelligence whose central work produced clear distinctions between human and mechanical thought, or cognitive ability. Turing’s premise was that certain kinds of human thinking transcend the computational power of computers, and that more analysis of this difference could help to distinguish humans from computers, or on the other hand, could assist in designing computers to eventually think more like humans and more effectively imitate human responses.
The Turing number is only one kind of process for screening for human users online. Another is called the Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA). This test is also based on a Turing test to distinguish human responses. One of the main differences between the Turing number and CAPTCHA is the presentation of CAPTCHA sequences in less readable formats, such as in non-linear presentations, as opposed to the often regimented format of a Turing number.