Ada Lovelace: biography of this mathematician and programming pioneer

Ada Lovelace was an advanced woman for her time. Women in Science and Technology, since 2009, every second Tuesday in October, is celebrated the International Day, a date which aims to commemorate the achievements of women in fields such as technology, science, engineering and mathematics .

Born Augusta Ada Byron, she was the daughter of the famous and controversial Lord Byron and Anna Isabella Noel Byron, an English aristocrat who resented the English poet.

Ada Lovelace’s life has its ups and downs marked by very poor health but that didn’t stop her from being a breakthrough in her time, so much so that she imagined what a computer is today. ‘hui. Let’s find out about his life below. Let’s look at a summary of his career in this biography of Ada Lovelace.

    Brief biography of Ada Lovelace

    Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was born Augusta Ada Byron on December 10, 1815.. As soon as Ada her parents arrived in the world, after several marital disagreements, scandals and infidelities, they separated. Her mother, Anna Isabella Noel Byron, left the family home, taking advantage of the fact that her father, the famous poet George Gordon Lord Byron, was sleeping, taking her with her little Ada, who was only one month old.

    The mother then filed for divorce from Byron after learning that her husband’s half-sister, Augusta Leigh, (by whom little Ada was named) was also her lover. Scandals ensued in Lord Byron’s life, and three months after she left him, Anna Isabella threatened her husband with a divorce or made famous his incestuous extramarital affair and his homosexuality. In the end, Byron would leave England and his daughter would never see him alive again.

    Little Ada was a sick girl. When she was seven, she contracted an illness that kept her bedridden for several months. At the age of fourteen, her legs became paralyzed for a season from severe measles, which led the girl, taking advantage of the dead hours, to spend them reading and studying without a break.

    Anna Isabella ensured that her daughter received a neat and strict education including music, French and math.. Still reluctant towards her ex-husband, Anna Isabella wanted her daughter to receive the most scientific education possible, far from her father’s life as a writer, so she hired mathematician and astronomer Mary Somerville. Her mother’s aversion to art makes Ada see her talents as an illness.

    To further stimulate Ada’s interest in science and technology, mother and daughter traveled through parts of industrialized England.. Thus, Ada was in contact with the latest inventions of the time, steam smoking machines. Among those who impressed him the most is the Jacquard loom, a power loom invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard and which at the time used punch cards to work.

    Augusta Ada was a woman, and that in Victorian England where she lived was just an obstacle. However, thanks to his high social status, it was possible to deal with figures of great prestige of his time, renowned scientists and educated men such as David Brewster, Andrew Crosse, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and novelist Charles Dickens.

      Charles Babbage and programming

      At 18, Augusta Ada King, like the rest of the young aristocrats of his time, he started attending high society parties to find a suitor who to marry. In one, organized by his tutor Mary Somerville, he meets the mathematician Charles Babbage, famous for having designed a calculator capable of calculating tables of numerical functions by the method of differences. Babbage is also famous for having designed, but never built, an analytical machine for running tabulation programs.

      It is thanks to these inventions that Babbage is considered to be one of the pioneers in conceiving the idea of ​​what could currently be considered a computer.. The mathematician’s designs excited the young Ada, so much so that even the young girl suggested that one day machines not too far away could change people’s lives by doing the most complicated calculations while taking orders.

        Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

        In 1835, Augusta Ada met William King-Noel, Lord Lovelace, a member of one of the most influential families in Victorian England. When the possibility arose of marrying the girl to such a well-known suitor, Ada’s mother quickly approved of the relationship. The wedding took place on July 8, 1835 and Ada became Lady King. It would be from that moment that the young woman would always sign under the name of Ada Lovelace. The couple would have 3 children: Byron, Anne and Ralph.

        At this point, the health of the current Countess of Lovelace began to deteriorate. Ada Lovelace began to suffer from very painful digestive and respiratory problems and the doctors of his time saw fit to treat them with opiates. The consumption of these substances affected his health and caused him to have delusions and sudden mood swings, in addition to sowing the seeds for a change in his personality.

        Ada Lovelace, who takes opiates, had delusions of grandeur, describing herself as a genius of mathematics, with almost supernatural faculties. He tried, unsuccessfully, to get Babbage to become his teacher, although the two ultimately maintain a close collaboration.

          A very successful translation

          In 1842, Ada will do what will be her only professional work for the prestigious journal Scientific Memoirs.. The magazine entrusted him with the translation of an article written in French by the Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea describing Charles Babbage’s analytical machine.

          Ada Lovelace published the translated article, accompanying it with copious notes from her harvest in which she laid out her own theories on how the machine worked. She only signed these notes with her initials AAL to hide her status as a woman and prevent this from interfering with its dissemination. The notes were not published under his real name until 1953.

          In the end, these detailed annotations would eventually become very famous, rather than the translation of the article itself. Ada’s imagination and her ability to see beyond immediate reality allowed her to develop cutting edge concepts for the time, being considered a true visionary.

          Most notable of these concepts is what refers to the operation of what we now call a computer algorithm. Ada took as an example the Bernoulli numbers, an infinite series of numbers which play a very important role in the description of the operations that Babbage’s analytical machine would have to perform in order to be able to calculate them.

          Ada Lovelace must also have sketched out other interesting current computing concepts. He predicted the existence of what we now call a “loop,” a group of instructions executed multiple times, or “subroutine,” part of a program that may be required at any time.

          It cannot be categorically stated that young Ada was the first to develop a computer program. However, it can be said that Ada Lovelace had the idea of ​​a machine that could be programmed and reprogrammed to perform various functions and not be limited to just computing. Ada believed that punch cards similar to those used by the Jacquard loom could be used to do this, which could be considered the first computer idea in history.

            End of his life

            Although Babbage tried to convince the British government to finance the construction of his machine, he was unsuccessful. If he had had it, there is no doubt that the industrial England of that time would have made an abysmal technological leap, advancing nearly a century. Unfortunately, the mathematician died in poverty after squandering his fortune and failing to materialize his big ideas.

            After Babbage’s professional rejection, Ada Lovelace did not return work on anything math related.. Tormented by her illness and her addiction to opiates, she threw herself into the arms of the game and also many lovers, which cost her much of the fortune and the marriage. Her mother, worried about seeing the romantic and crazy traits of her daughter of Lord Byron, convinced her to convert to Christianity and change her life.

            Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, died November 27, 1852. He died from the bleeding that doctors applied to him in hopes of trying to cure the uterine cancer he suffered from. He was only 36, the same age his father, Lord Byron, left the world. Although her mother did everything possible to prevent her father and daughter from seeing each other again in life, she could not prevent them from doing so in death as the young woman’s last wish was to be buried next to the father he has never met.

            Ada Lovelace’s algorithm for calculating Bernoulli numbers has not been implemented or tested because Babbage’s analytical machine was never built. It will be nearly a hundred years before Howard Aiken, an American engineer and pioneer in the field of computer science, designed the first electromagnetic computer, closely linked to the work of Babbage.

            Unlike the English mathematician, Aiken secured funding, if any, from IBM, building it in 1944 and naming the machine as Mark I.. Who knows if, had he received the support he needed, Babbage and Ada Lovelace would have created a machine as revolutionary as Aiken’s …

            Bibliographical references

            • Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (October 12, 2021). Ada Lovelace. Encyclopedia Britannica.
            • Plante, Sadie (1995). “The future is approaching: the weaving of women and cybernetics.” A feather, Mike; Terriers, Roger (ed.). Cyberspace / Cyberbodies / Cyberpunk: Cultures of technological incarnation. SAGE Publications, in association with Theory, Culture & Society, School of Human Studies, University of Teesside. pages 45-64. ISBN 978-1-84860-914-3.
            • Miller, Claire Cain (March 8, 2018). “A gifted mathematician who is now recognized as the premier computer programmer.” www.nytimes.com. Accessed January 4, 2020

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