Wednesday, 29 October 2014

WISE: Ada Lovelace

Ada Gordon, more often known as Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 and was an only child. She was the daughter of a poet, George Gordon, and a mathematician, Annabella Milbanke. Her parents separated just a month after Lovelace was born. Her mother feared that Ada would inherit her father's poetic temperament she raised her daughter on under an strict regime of science, logic and mathematics. From childhood Ada had a fascination with machines. She would design boats and steam flying machines, and would pour over the diagrams over new inventions that the Industrial Revolution brought about that filled all of the scientific magazines at the time 

At the age of 19, she married to William King who was an aristocrat. When her husband, in 1838 became Earl of Lovelace, Ada King became Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. She had her husband had three children together. 

Lovelace was introduced to Charles Babbage in 1833 by her mentor Mary Somerville who was a a scientist. Babbage was a Professor of Mathematics who was famous for his visionary and unfinished plans for gigantic clockwork calculating machines. Both Lovelace and Babbage had unconventional personalities and ended up becoming lifelong friends. 

Lovelace had become deeply interested by Babbage's plans for an extremely complicated device that he called the Analytical Engine. It was to combine the array of adding his earlier Difference Engine. The Analytical Engine was never built, however the design had all the essential deigns of a modern computer. 

During 1842, Lovelace had translated a short article that described the Analytical Engine by an Italian mathematician for publication in England. Babbage had then asked her to expand the article as he believed that she understood the way it worked very well. The final article is over three times the length of the original one It contains several early 'computer programs' as well had strikingly observations on the potential use of the machine. These things included the manipulation of symbols and the creation of music. Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for the machine before but Lovelace's were the most elaborate out of all of these ans they were the first to be published. Because of this she is often referred to as the 'first computer programmer'. 

A the age of 36, Ada Lovelance died from cancer, just a few short years after the publication of 'Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with Notes from the Translator', and was buried alongside her father whom she never met, 

The Engine still remained a vision even after her death, that was until her notes had become one of the critical documents that inspired Alan Turing's work on the first modern computer in the 1940s. 

Although Lovelace herself was not able to carry through the vision that she had helped Babbage with, her thoughts and ideas carried on and had affected the way we use technology today.
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