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Ada Lovelace (1815–1852): Inventor of Computer Algorithms

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Women of Genius in Science
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Abstract

Since ancient times, people have been striving to simplify and speed up arithmetical calculation. As shown by the cargo of a Roman shipwreck discovered off the Aegean coast in 1900, far more elaborate machines were used alongside counting boards and abacuses. Besides the spectacular art treasures recovered, a corroded metal lump remained unnoticed for a long time. It was not until the middle of the twentieth century that it became apparent that it was an 82-piece machine made of gears, axles, and other mechanical components. Through certain presettings and the turning of a hand crank, the machine, built around the year 120 BC, was able to perform the most complicated astronomical calculations.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Quoted from Karl Popp and Erwin Stein (eds.), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The Work of the Great Polymath as Philosopher, Mathematician, Physicist, Technician. Hanover: Schlütersche (2000), p. 84.

  2. 2.

    Mary Somerville, The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum, Proceedings of the Royal Society (1826).

  3. 3.

    Frederico Menabrea, Ada Lovelace, Grundriß der von Charles Babbage erfundenen Analytical Engine, in Bernhard Dotzler (ed.), Babbage's Rechen-AutomateAusgewählte Schriften, Computerkultur Band VI, Springer Wien/New York (1996), p. 335.

  4. 4.

    Michael Fothe, Computer Science Has History! in: Heinrich C. Mayr, Martin Pinzger (eds.), Informatics 2016, Lecture Notes in Informatics (LNI), Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn (2016) pp. 1.909–1.915.

  5. 5.

    Luigi Frederico Menabrea, Notions sur la Machine Analytique de M. Charles Babbage, Bibliothèque universelle de Genève, nouvelle série 41 (1842) pp. 352–76.

  6. 6.

    Ada Lovelace, Notes to a Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage, by L.F. Menabrea, Scientific Memoirs, 3, London (1843).

  7. 7.

    Ada Lovelace, November 1844; here, after Agnes Imhof, Die geniale Rebellin: Ada Lovelace—Sie stürzte sich ins Leben und revolutionierte die Mathematik, Piper Taschenbuch (2022).

  8. 8.

    Bertram V. Bowden (ed.), Faster than Thought—A Symposium on Digital Computing Machines, Pitman (1953).

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Correspondence to Lars Jaeger .

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Jaeger, L. (2023). Ada Lovelace (1815–1852): Inventor of Computer Algorithms. In: Women of Genius in Science . Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-23926-7_7

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