Please join me and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in commemorating the life of Ada Lovelace by celebrating the achievements – past and present – of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Ada Lovelace was born two centuries ago this year, and is widely recognized as a visionary who saw the potential of computational machines long before the development of the modern computer – a prescience often credited to her devotion to metaphor-heavy “poetical” science. Lovelace’s mother provided her daughter with a thorough mathematical education, both to dissuade her from following in the footsteps of her father – the famed poet Lord Byron – and to provide her with intellectual and emotional stability. At age seventeen, Lovelace witnessed a demonstration of Charles Babbage’s difference engine, and eventually worked with him as he devised the analytical engine, furnishing Babbage with her own original set of groundbreaking notes.
Though never actually built during her lifetime, the analytical engine inspired Lovelace to write what many consider to be the first computer algorithm, a set of instructions for computing Bernoulli numbers. She also foresaw the potential for machines to perform operations using symbols rather than calculating using numbers alone, even suggesting that they might one day be used to create music. Lovelace is remembered for her early contributions to computer science, for her metaphorical imagination, and for achieving all of this in an age when women seldom undertook serious studies in mathematics.
|Charles Babbage||English Polymath, Mathematician, Philosopher, Inventor and Mechanical Engineer|
|Mary Somerville||Scottish Science Writer and Polymath|
|Augustus De Morgan||British Mathematician and Logician|
|William Frend||English Clergyman, Social Reformer and Writer|