Google’s tribute to Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born 197 years ago in Piccadilly (10 December, 1815) and I’ve seen this morning this picture in Google web page honoring her. She was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke who was called “Princess of Parallelograms” by the poet because of her mathematical training. So Ada was very lucky because her mother gave her an unusual education for a woman insisting in the importance of having a good knowledge in Mathematics. From an early age, Ada was introduced in Mathematics and Science by teachers as William King, Mary Somerville or Augustus De Morgan and when she was 17 years old, her mathematical skills began to emerge.

Mary Somerville introduced Ada to Charles Babbage (1791-1871) on 5 June 1833 and she met and corresponded with him on many occasions. Babbage explained to Ada his ideas about his future mechanical engines and he became fascinated for him. Furthermore, Babbage noticed that Ada had very good intellectual skills (he called her “The Enchantress of Numbers”) and they began a close relationship. In 1843, Ada translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Babbage’s newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine. She noticed that Analytical Engine’s function was a difficult task and how the Engine differed from the original Difference Engine. One of the most interesting notes on the Analytical Engine was a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers (B0 = 1, B1 = ±12B2 = 16B3 = 0, B4 = −130B5 = 0, B6 = 142B7 = 0, B8 = −130.) with the Engine which would have run correctly if the machine had been built (it was built completely in 2002!). Because of this method, Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer of the history and her algorithm is the first computer program. So she can be considered as one of the most important personalities in the History of Mathematics!

Thanks Ada Lovelace!

Portrait of Ada Lovelace
Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1836)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Links: Ada Lovelace in MacTutor and  Wikipedia.


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