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Ada Lovelace

Page history last edited by alaurain 10 years, 1 month ago

Ada Lovelace

          By: Alex Laurain


        Ada King Lovelace (b. 10 December, 1815 - d. 27 November, 1852) is known for her work with Charles Babbage making the first Analytical Engine.

     Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born Augusta Ada Byron in London on December 10, 1815. She died at the age of 37 on November 27, 1852 due to uterine cancer. Her mother was Anna Isabella Milbanke and her father was Lord Byron. Ada King’s father was a Romantic poet and had an unrestrained temperament. Her mother, a woman with mathematical training, grew to dislike his  temperament and a few months after Ada King’s birth, her parents got a divorce. In 1829, Ada King was inflected with a bout of measles leaving her paralyzed and bed ridden for nearly a year. Due to her mother’s fear that Ada King would grow up with her father’s temperament, Ada King grew up tutored in mathematics, music, and the sciences by William Frend, William King, and Mary Somerville. William Frend was a social reformer, William King was the family doctor, and Mary Somerville was an astronomer and mathematician. In order to develop her daughter’s self-control, Anna Isabella made Ada King lie still for extended periods as well. Ada King continued her education past the tutors through self-education and with the help of Augustus De Morgan, the head professor of mathematics at the University of London, in the 1840’s. At the age of 17, in 1832, Lovelace met Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Difference Engine. The two began corresponding about mathematics, logic, and other topics becoming close friends. In 1834, Babbage came up with the idea of the Analytical Engine and worked with Ada King to create it.
     At the age of twenty, Ada Byron married William King, ten years her senior, on July 8, 1835 and together they had three children Byron, Anne Isabella, and Ralph Gordon. Byron, the eldest child, was born in 1836 and would later go on to become the Viscount of Ockham. Their second child, Anna Isabella, was born in 1837. Ralph Gordon, the youngest, was born in 1839. In 1838, William King inherited the title Earl of Lovelace and Ada King the title of Countess of Lovelace.
      During the early years of her marriage, while her kids where still young, Ada gave up mathematics to be a mother and a wife, returning to it once time permitted. King suffered a bout of cholera in 1837 that left her with asthma. In 1843, Babbage enlisted her help in translating a French article about the Analytical Engine, the first general-purpose programmable computer with many of the essential features found in modern computers.
Ada King’s Work
        Ada King is known for her work with Charles Babbage, the creator of the Analytical Engine. Babbage had first intended to make the Analytical Engine into a difference engine that would calculate arithmetic. With Ada King’s help, Babbage changed the original design. King worked nine months to translate the French article at Babbage’s request. She created a set of extensive notes that she appended to the article and form which her work can be recognized. Her notes possessed visionary applications for the machine under construction. Through them, she proposed that the engine could be used outside of the mathematics field. She stipulated that it could be programmed to compute Bernoulli Numbers. Bernoulli numbers are a sequence of rational numbers that are defined by the exponential function. This proposed plan became known as the first computer program. King also proposed that the Engine could be used a general-purpose computer and possibly even compose music. King’s notes also included the first published description of the step-wise sequence of operations, a function defined as in sequence of intervals.
        Ada King became the key interpreter of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine through these notes. She was able to explain to others what the engine could do, by using her creative way of understanding mathematics, in a way that Charles Babbage could not. These famous notes where published in 1834 along with the translation of the French article.


Interesting Facts
     •   Anne Isabella had her daughter tutored in an attempt to prevent Ada King from developing the same unpredictable temperament as her father, going so far as to force Ada King to lay still for hours
     •   King used her imagination to help her understand math, going so far as to describe math using metaphors
     •   In 1828, Ada King drew up plans for a flying machine by studying the structure of a bird and its wings in relation to the body. 
     •  The notes Ada King wrote on the French article where three times the length of the original article.
     •  King often called herself and Analyst and a Meta-physician and even used them as her titles in her notes on the French article
     •  King never met her father, yet she was buried next to him when she passed away

     •  The U.S Department of Defense named the software language they developed after her in 1979. They went on to trademark the name 1984.


Impact to 21st Century Culture and Society
     The first general purpose computer became actualized with the help of Ada King. King helped the founding fathers of our age build the backbone from which our Computer Age has sprung. The cyber space we occupy on a day-to-day base was conceived in part by Ada King. Even though many forgot this founding mother, she is not forgotten by all.
     Ada King is hailed as the first computer programmer due to her work with Babbage. The proposed algorithm that would allow the Engine to compute Bernoulli numbers is considered the first algorithm tailored for use on a computer. She proposed the notion of the engine using numbers to represent things other than quantities. Along with this idea, Ada described codes that would allow the Engine to complete the task proposed as well as the theory of looping, a process used by modern computers.


Works Cited


Stansifer, Ryan. "Augusta Ada Byron (1815-1852)". cs.fit.edu. Florida Institute of Technology, 19 Aug. 2004. Web. 22 Aug 2014.


Riddle, Larry. "Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace". Agnesscot.edu. Agnes Scott College,10 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Aug 2014.


"Ada Lovelace: Founder of Scientific Computing". sdsc.edu. Science Women, n.d. Web. 22 Aug 2014


"Ada Lovelace". sciencemuseum.org.uk. Science Museum, n.d. Web. 22 Aug 2014.


"Ada Lovelace". computinghistory.org. Computing History Museum, 2008. Web. 22 Aug 2014


"Ada Lovelace Biography: Mathematician, Computer Programmer (1815-1852)". biography.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 22 Aug 2014

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