Monday, December 10, 2012

Ada Lovelace

It is always good to hear about female mathematicians. Today, Google featured a graphic with the tag “Ada Lovelace’s 197th birthday”. Investigation revealed that Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet, Lord Byron, and lived in the 1800s.

A paragraph in the Washington Post caught my attention.

At the age of 17, Lovelace was among the first to grasp the importance of Babbage’s machines, Google noted. In her correspondence, as reported by New Scientist magazine, Lovelace said that “the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.” She also noted that the Analytical Engine “does not occupy common ground with mere calculating machines” and had the potential to run complicated programs of its own.

Apparently, Lovelace wrote the first algorithm designed to be run by the Analytical Engine. Some say she should be considered the first computer programmer.

Here is another Lovelace quote to ponder (from Wikipedia:Ada Lovelace)

[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine...

Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.[58]