Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. She is chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often described as the world's first computer programmer, or the "mother of computer programming".
- [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.
- Sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage Esq. Scientific Memoirs (Richard Taylor): 694. As quoted by Menabrea, Luigi (1842).
- We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.
- Our family are an alternate stratification of poetry and mathematics.
- Circumstances have been such, that I have lived almost entirely secluded for some time. Those who are much in earnest and with single minds devoted to any great object in life, must find this occasionally inevitable.... You will wonder at having heard nothing from me; but you have experience and candour enough to perceive and know that God has not given to us (in this state of existence) more than very limited powers of expression of one's ideas and feelings... I shall be very desirous of again seeing you. You know what that means from me, and that it is no form, but the simple expression and result of the respect and attraction I feel for a mind that ventures to read direct in God's own book, and not merely thro' man's translation of that same vast and mighty work.
- Perhaps you have felt already, from the tone of my letter, that I am more than ever now the bride of science. Religion to me is science, and science is religion. In that deeply-felt truth lies the secret of my intense devotion to the reading of God's natural works. It is reading Him. His will — His intelligence; and this again is learning to obey and to follow (to the best of our power) that will! For he who reads, who interprets the Divinity with a true and simple heart, then obeys and submits in acts and feelings as by an impupulse and instinct. He can't help doing so. At least, it appears so to me.
- Englische Studien, Volume 19 (1894), Leipzig; O.R. Reisland, "Byron's Daughter", p. 157-158.
- When I behold the scientific and so-called philosophers full of selfish feelings, and of a tenency to war against circumstances and Providence, I say to myself: They are not true priests, they are but half prophets — if not absolutely false ones. They have read the great page simply with the physical eye, and with none of the spirit within. The intellectual, the moral, the religious seem to me all naturally bound up and interlinked together in one great and harmonious whole... That God is one, and that all the works and the feelings He has called into existence are ONE; this is a truth (a biblical and scriptural truth too) not in my opinion developed to the apprehension of most people in its really deep and unfanthomable meaning. There is too much tendency to making separate and independent bundles of both the physical and the moral facts of the universe. Whereas, all and everything is naturally related and interconnected. A volume could I write you on this subject.
- With all my wiry power and strength, I am prone at times to bodily sufferings, connected chiefly with the digestive organs, of no common degree or king. I do not regret the sufferings and peculiaties of my physical constitution. They have taught me, and continue to teach me, that which I think nothing else could have developed. It is a force and control put upon me by Providence which I must obey. And the effects of this continual disciple of facts are mighty. They tame the in the best sense of that word, and they fan into existence a pure, bright, holy, unselfish flame within that sheds cheerfulness and light on many.
— Ever yours truly. "A. A. Lovelace."
- I may remark that the curious transformations many formulae can undergo, the unsuspected and to a beginner apparently impossible identity of forms exceedingly dissimilar at first sight, is I think one of the chief difficulties in the early part of mathematical studies. I am often reminded of certain sprites and fairies one reads of, who are at one's elbows in one shape now, and the next minute in a form most dissimilar.
- As quoted in Toole, Betty Alexandra (1998), Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: Prophet of the Computer Age, Strawberry Press, ISBN 0912647183. p. 99
- [...] engine is the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity.
- As quoted by Rosen, Kenneth H. (2013). Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 9780071315012. p.29.
About Ada Lovelace Edit
- All but one of the programs cited in her notes had been prepared by Babbage from three to seven years earlier. The exception was prepared by Babbage for her, although she did detect a 'bug' in it. Not only is there no evidence that Ada ever prepared a program for the Analytical Engine, but her correspondence with Babbage shows that she did not have the knowledge to do so.
- Bromley, Allan G. (1990). "Difference and Analytical Engines" (PDF). In Aspray, William. Computing Before Computers (pdf). Ames: Iowa State University Press. pp. 59–98. ISBN 0-8138-0047-1. p. 89.
- A large, coarse-skinned young woman but with something of my friend's features, particularly the mouth.
On computer creativity Edit
Discussions of computer creativity, intelligence, and art, often quote Lovelace on the following paragraph:
- The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate any thing. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths. Its province is to assist us in making available what we are already acquainted with. This it is calculated to effect primarily and chiefly of course, through its executive faculties; but it is likely to exert an indirect and reciprocal influence on science itself in another manner. For, in so distributing and combining the truths and the formulæ of analysis, that they may become most easily and rapidly amenable to the mechanical combinations of the engine, the relations and the nature of many subjects in that science are necessarily thrown into new lights, and more profoundly investigated.
Most famously, it was quoted by Turing:
- (6) Lady Lovelace's ObjectionOur most detailed information of Babbage's Analytical Engine comes from a memoir by Lady Lovelace. In it she states, “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform” (her italics). This statement is quoted by Hartree (p. 70)... The view that machines cannot give rise to surprises is due, I believe, to a fallacy to which philosophers and mathematicians are particularly subject. This is the assumption that as soon as a fact is presented to a mind all consequences of that fact spring into the mind simultaneously with it. It is a very useful assumption under many circumstances, but one too easily forgets that it is false.
who was mentioning Hartree's comments:
- Some of [Lovelace's] comments sound remarkably modern. One is very appropriate to a discussion there was in England which arose from a tendency, even in the more responsible press, to use the term “electronic brain” for equipment such as electronic calculating machines, automatic pilots for aircraft, etc. I considered it necessary to protest against this usage (51), as the term would suggest to the layman that equipment of this kind could “think for itself,” whereas this is just what it cannot do; all the thinking has to be done beforehand by the designer and by the operator who provides the operating instructions for the particular problem; all the machine can do is to follow these instructions exactly, and this is true even though they involve the faculty of “judgment.” I found afterwards that over a hundred years ago Lady Lovelace had put the point firmly and concisely (C, p. 44) : “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to oriqinate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform” (her italics).
- Calculating Instruments and Machines (1949, Douglas Hartree), page 70.