Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Byron and his first wife, Isabella Milbanke, was highly mathematically gifted. Milbanke, known as Princess of the Parallelograms for her exceptional mathematical and logistical abilities, tutored Ada rigorously in science and mathematics, and Ada went on to collaborate with Charles Babbage, the inventor of the calculating machine. Her theories of indexing and looping form the basis of modern computing and Ada is now widely acknowledged as one of the world's first computer programmers.Ada called herself "an Analyst (& Metaphysician)," and the combination was put to use in the Notes. She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. It was suited for "developping [sic] and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine [is] the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity." Her Notes anticipate future developments, including computer-generated music.

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