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Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

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Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron, was an English writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage, FRS was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer...

's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine
Analytical engine
The Analytical Engine was a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer designed by English mathematician Charles Babbage. It was first described in 1837 as the successor to Babbage's difference engine, a design for a mechanical calculator...

. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

 intended to be processed by a machine; as such she is sometimes considered the "World's First Computer Programmer".

She was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron (with Anne Isabella Milbanke). She had no relationship with her father, who died when she was nine. As a young adult she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular Babbage's work on the analytical engine. Between 1842 and 1843 she translated an article by Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea on the engine, which she supplemented with a set of notes of her own. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program—that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Though Babbage's engine was not built until nearly 150 years later in 1989–91, Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities.

Biography


Ada Augusta Byron was born on 10 December 1815, the child of the poet Lord Byron, 6th Lord Byron and his wife, Anne Isabella "Annabella" Milbanke, Baroness Wentworth. Byron, and many of those who knew Byron, expected that the baby would be "the glorious boy", and there was some disappointment at the contrary news. She was named after Byron's half-sister, Augusta Leigh
Augusta Leigh
Augusta Maria Byron, later Augusta Maria Leigh , styled "The Honourable" from birth, was the only daughter of John "Mad Jack" Byron, the poet Lord Byron's father, by his first wife, Amelia Osborne .-Early...

, and was called "Ada" by Byron himself.


On 16 January 1816, Annabella, at Byron's behest, left for her parents' home at Kirkby Mallory
Kirkby Mallory
Kirkby Mallory is a hamlet in Leicestershire, England. It is known mainly for its Race Circuit, Mallory Park, a one mile track where car and motorbike races take place.Its church is All Saints and is located near the entrance Numerous lakes and farms are situated in and around the village and the...

 taking one-month-old Lovelace with her. Although English law gave fathers full custody of their children in cases of separation, Byron made no attempt to claim his parental rights. On 21 April, Byron signed the Deed of Separation, although very reluctantly, and left England for good a few days later. Byron did not have a relationship with his daughter and he died in 1824 when she was nine; her mother was the only significant parental figure in her life. Her mother, Annabella, became Baroness Wentworth in her own right in 1856, being then the sole remaining representative of the Wentworth Viscounts
Viscount Wentworth
Viscount Wentworth was a title used by:* Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford was an English statesman and a major figure in the period leading up to the English Civil War.* Baron Wentworth...

.

Lovelace was often ill, dating from her early childhood. At the age of eight she experienced headaches that obscured her vision. In June 1829, she was paralysed after a bout of the measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

. She was subjected to continuous bed rest for nearly a year, which may have extended her period of disability. By 1831 she was able to walk with crutches.

Throughout her illnesses, Lovelace continued her education. Her mother's obsession with rooting out any of the insanity of which she accused Lord Byron was one of the reasons that Lovelace was taught mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 from an early age. Lovelace was privately schooled in mathematics and science by William Frend
William Frend (social reformer)
William Frend was an English clergyman , social reformer and writer. After a high-profile university trial in Cambridge deprived of his residency rights as fellow of his college, he became a leading figure in London radical circles.-Early life:Son of a Canterbury trader, he was born on 22 November...

, William King
William King-Noel, 1st Earl of Lovelace
William King-Noel, 1st Earl of Lovelace FRS , known as the Hon. William King until 1833 and as the Lord King from 1833 to 1838, was an English nobleman and scientist....

 and Mary Somerville
Mary Somerville
Mary Fairfax Somerville was a Scottish science writer and polymath, at a time when women's participation in science was discouraged...

. One of her later tutors was the noted mathematician and logician Augustus De Morgan
Augustus De Morgan
Augustus De Morgan was a British mathematician and logician. He formulated De Morgan's laws and introduced the term mathematical induction, making its idea rigorous. The crater De Morgan on the Moon is named after him....

. From 1832, when she was seventeen, her remarkable mathematical abilities began to emerge, and her interest in mathematics dominated her life even after her marriage. In a letter to Lovelace's mother, De Morgan suggested that Lovelace's skill in mathematics could lead her to become "an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first-rate eminence".

Lovelace never met her younger half-sister, Allegra Byron
Allegra Byron
Clara Allegra Byron , initially named Alba, meaning "dawn," or "white," by her mother, was the illegitimate daughter of the poet George Gordon, Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont, the stepsister of Mary Shelley....

, daughter of Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont
Claire Clairmont
Clara Mary Jane Clairmont , or Claire Clairmont as she was commonly known, was a stepsister of writer Mary Shelley and the mother of Lord Byron's daughter Allegra.-Early life:...

, who died in 1822 at the age of five. She did, however, have some contact with Elizabeth Medora Leigh
Elizabeth Medora Leigh
Elizabeth Medora Leigh was the third daughter of Augusta Leigh. It is widely speculated that she was fathered by her mother's half-brother Lord Byron, although her mother's husband Colonel George Leigh was her official father.Three days after her birth, Byron visited Augusta and the baby...

, the daughter of Byron's half-sister Augusta Leigh. Augusta Leigh purposely avoided Lovelace as much as possible when she was introduced at Court.

Adult years


Lovelace knew Mary Somerville
Mary Somerville
Mary Fairfax Somerville was a Scottish science writer and polymath, at a time when women's participation in science was discouraged...

, noted researcher and scientific author of the 19th century, who introduced her to Charles Babbage on 5 June 1833. Other acquaintances were Sir David Brewster
David Brewster
Sir David Brewster KH PRSE FRS FSA FSSA MICE was a Scottish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor, writer and university principal.-Early life:...

, Charles Wheatstone
Charles Wheatstone
Sir Charles Wheatstone FRS , was an English scientist and inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era, including the English concertina, the stereoscope , and the Playfair cipher...

, Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 and Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday, FRS was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry....

.

By 1834, Lovelace was a regular at Court and started attending various events. She danced often and was able to charm many people and was described by most people as being dainty. However, John Hobhouse
John Hobhouse, 1st Baron Broughton
John Cam Hobhouse, 1st Baron Broughton GCB, PC, FRS , known as Sir John Hobhouse, Bt, from 1831 to 1851, was a British politician and memoirist.-Background and education:...

, Lord Byron's friend, was the exception and he described her as "a large, coarse-skinned young woman but with something of my friend's features, particularly the mouth". This description followed their meeting on 24 February 1834 in which Lovelace made it clear to Hobhouse that she did not like him, probably due to the influence of her mother, which led her to dislike all of her father's friends. This first impression was not to last, and they later became friends.

On 8 July 1835 she married William King, 8th Baron King, later 1st Earl of Lovelace
Earl of Lovelace
Earl of Lovelace is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1838 for William King-Noel, 8th Baron King. The King family descends from Jerome King, a grocer, of Exeter, and his wife Anne, daughter of Peter Locke, nephew of the philosopher John Locke...

 in 1838. Her full title for most of her married life was "The Right Honourable the Countess of Lovelace". Their residence was a large estate at Ockham Park, in Ockham, Surrey
Ockham, Surrey
Ockham is a tiny English village near East Horsley, in Surrey, England. The village lies to the east of the A3 which runs between Cobham and Guildford. Other neighbouring villages include Ripley, Wisley and Effingham....

, along with another estate on Loch Torridon
Torridon
Torridon is a small village in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. However the name is also applied to the area surrounding the village, particularly the Torridon Hills, mountains to the north of Glen Torridon. It lies on the shore of Loch Torridon.Torridon is on the west coast of Scotland, ...

 and a home in London. They had three children; Byron
Byron King-Noel, Viscount Ockham
Byron King-Noel, 12th Baron Wentworth, styled Viscount Ockham was a British peer.Lord Ockham was the eldest son of William King-Noel, 1st Earl of Lovelace and his wife, Ada...

 born 12 May 1836, Anne Isabella (called Annabella, later Lady Anne Blunt
Lady Anne Blunt
Anne Isabella Noel Blunt, née King-Noel, 15th Baroness Wentworth , known for most of her life as Lady Anne Blunt, was co-founder, with her husband the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, of the Crabbet Arabian Stud. The two married on 8 June 1869...

) born 22 September 1837 and Ralph Gordon
Ralph King-Milbanke, 2nd Earl of Lovelace
Ralph Gordon King Noel Milbanke, 2nd Earl of Lovelace was the third son of William King-Noel, 1st Earl of Lovelace and his wife, Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the poet Lord Byron and widely credited as the world's first computer programmer. He was born on 2 July 1839, and lived at...

 born 2 July 1839. Immediately after the birth of Annabella, Lovelace experienced "a tedious and suffering illness, which took months to cure".

In 1841, Lovelace and Medora Leigh
Elizabeth Medora Leigh
Elizabeth Medora Leigh was the third daughter of Augusta Leigh. It is widely speculated that she was fathered by her mother's half-brother Lord Byron, although her mother's husband Colonel George Leigh was her official father.Three days after her birth, Byron visited Augusta and the baby...

 (daughter of Lord Byron's half-sister Augusta Leigh) were told by Lovelace's mother that Byron, her father, was also Medora's father. On 27 February 1841, Lovelace wrote to her mother: "I am not in the least astonished. In fact you merely confirm what I have for years and years felt scarcely a doubt about, but should have considered it most improper in me to hint to you that I in any way suspected". Lovelace did not blame the incestuous relationship on Byron, but instead blamed Augusta Leigh: "I fear she is more inherently wicked than he ever was". This did not prevent Lovelace's mother from attempting to destroy her daughter's image of her father, but instead drove her to attack Byron's image with greater intensity.

Charles Babbage


Ada Lovelace met and corresponded with Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage, FRS was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer...

 on many occasions, including socially and in relation to Babbage's Difference Engine
Difference engine
A difference engine is an automatic, mechanical calculator designed to tabulate polynomial functions. Both logarithmic and trigonometric functions can be approximated by polynomials, so a difference engine can compute many useful sets of numbers.-History:...

 and Analytical Engine
Analytical engine
The Analytical Engine was a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer designed by English mathematician Charles Babbage. It was first described in 1837 as the successor to Babbage's difference engine, a design for a mechanical calculator...

. Babbage was impressed by Lovelace's intellect and writing skills. He called her "The Enchantress of Numbers". In 1843 he wrote of her:
During a nine-month period in 1842–43, Lovelace translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea's memoir on Babbage's newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine. With the article, she appended a set of notes. The notes are longer than the memoir itself and include (Section G), in complete detail, a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the Engine, which would have run correctly had the Analytical Engine been built. Based on this work, Lovelace is now widely credited with being the first computer programmer and her method is recognised as the world's first computer program.

Some biographers debate the extent of her original contributions. Dorothy Stein, author of Ada: A Life and a Legacy, contends that the programs were mostly written by Babbage himself. Babbage wrote the following on the subject, in his Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864).
The level of impact of Lovelace on Babbage's engines is difficult to resolve from Babbage's writings due to Babbage's tendency not to acknowledge (either orally or in writing) the influence of other people in his work.

Death


Lovelace died at the age of thirty-six, on 27 November 1852, from uterine cancer
Uterine cancer
The term uterine cancer may refer to any of several different types of cancer which occur in the uterus, namely:*Uterine sarcomas: sarcomas of the myometrium, or muscular layer of the uterus, are most commonly leiomyosarcomas.*Endometrial cancer:...

 and bloodletting
Bloodletting
Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often little quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health...

 by her physicians. She was buried, at her request, next to her father at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene
Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Hucknall
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, is a parish church in the Church of England.The church is Grade II* listed by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport as it is a particularly significant building of more than local interest....

 in Hucknall
Hucknall
Hucknall, formerly known as Hucknall Torkard, is a town in Greater Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, in the district of Ashfield. The town was historically a centre for framework knitting and then for mining but is now a focus for other industries as well providing housing for workers in...

, Nottingham
Nottingham
Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...

.

First "computer program"



In 1842 Charles Babbage was invited to give a seminar at the University of Turin
University of Turin
The University of Turin is a university in the city of Turin in the Piedmont region of north-western Italy...

 about his analytical engine. Luigi Menabrea
Federico Luigi, Conte Menabrea
Federico Luigi, 1º Conte Menabrea, 1st Marquis of Valdora was an Italian general, statesman and mathematician.-Biography:Menabrea was born at Chambéry, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia....

, a young Italian engineer, and future prime minister of Italy
Prime minister of Italy
The Prime Minister of Italy is the head of government of the Italian Republic...

, wrote up Babbage's lecture in French, and this transcript was subsequently published in the Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève in October 1842.

Babbage asked the Countess of Lovelace to translate Menabrea's paper into English, subsequently requesting that she augment the notes she had added to the translation. Lady Lovelace spent most of a year doing this. These notes, which are more extensive than Menabrea's paper, were then published in The Ladies' Diary
The Ladies' Diary
The Ladies' Diary: or, Woman's Almanack appeared annually in London from 1704 to 1841. It featured material relating to calendars etc. including sunrise and sunset times and phases of the moon, as well as important dates , and a chronology of remarkable events.The subtitle indicated its serious...

and Taylor's Scientific Memoirs
Scientific Memoirs
Scientific Memoirs, Selected from the Transactions of Foreign Academies of science and Learned Societies and from Foreign Journals was a series of books edited and published by Richard Taylor in London between 1837 and 1852....

under the initialism "AAL".

In 1953, over one hundred years after her death, Lady Lovelace's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine were republished. The engine has now been recognised as an early model for a computer and Lady Lovelace's notes as a description of a computer and software.

Her notes were labelled alphabetically from A to G. In note G, the Countess describes an algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

 for the analytical engine to compute Bernoulli number
Bernoulli number
In mathematics, the Bernoulli numbers Bn are a sequence of rational numbers with deep connections to number theory. They are closely related to the values of the Riemann zeta function at negative integers....

s. It is considered the first algorithm ever specifically tailored for implementation on a computer, and for this reason she is often cited as the first computer programmer. However the engine was never actually constructed to completion during Lovelace's lifetime.

The computer language Ada
Ada (programming language)
Ada is a structured, statically typed, imperative, wide-spectrum, and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages...

, created on behalf of the United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

, was named after Lovelace. The reference manual for the language was approved on 10 December 1980, and the Department of Defense Military Standard for the language, "MIL-STD-1815", was given the number of the year of her birth. Since 1998, the British Computer Society
British Computer Society
The British Computer Society, is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in Information Technology in the United Kingdom and internationally...

 has awarded a medal
Lovelace Medal
The Lovelace Medal, established by the British Computer Society in 1998, is presented to individuals who have advanced Information Systems or added significantly to their understanding....

 in her name and in 2008 initiated an annual competition for women students of computer science.

Modern references


Lady Lovelace has been portrayed in the film Conceiving Ada
Conceiving Ada
Conceiving Ada is a 1997 movie produced, written, and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Produced by Lynn Hershman Leeson and Henry S. Rosenthal. Directors of Photography: Hiro Narita, Bill Zarchy-Synopsis:...

, the steam punk novel The Difference Engine
The Difference Engine
The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer .The novel was...

, by William Gibson
William Gibson
William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction author.William Gibson may also refer to:-Association football:*Will Gibson , Scottish footballer...

 and Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling
Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.-Writings:...

 and the webcomic 2D Goggles by Sydney Padua
Sydney Padua
Melina Sydney Padua is a graphic artist and animator, author of the 2D Goggles webcomic, and whose animation work appears in several popular Hollywood films....

. Ada Lovelace Day is an organization whose goal is to "raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths".

Commemoration


In the UK, the annual conference for women undergraduates is named after Ada Lovelace (the BCSWomen
BCSWomen
BCSWomen is a Specialist Group of the British Computer Society, with the aim of supporting women working and considering a career in Information Technology....

 Lovelace Colloquium). This moves around; in 2008 and 2009 it was in Leeds, 2010 in Cardiff, and 2011 in Birmingham. 2012 will be in Bath.

In 2009 and 2010, 24 March was commemorated by some as Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. The 2011 Ada Lovelace Day was on 7 October.

Titles and styles

  • 10 December 1815 – 8 July 1835: The Honourable Ada Augusta Byron
  • 8 July 1835–1838: The Right Honourable the Lady King
  • 1838 – 27 November 1852: The Right Honourable the Countess of Lovelace

Publications


External links