Ada Lovelace Day Honors ‘the First Computer Programmer’

by Yasemin Saplakoglu,  Scientific American

Pioneering 19th-century English mathematician Ada Lovelace is honored on the second Tuesday of every October for her contributions to computer programming, which include a seminal paper detailing the function of an “Analytical Engine.”

Former Open Rights Group executive director Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009 accorded this recognition to Lovelace to celebrate women’s accomplishments in math, science, and engineering. In 1843, Lovelace translated a French paper about mathematician Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine–a precursor to the Analytical Engine–and also provided annotations illustrating a description of the machine’s workings.

Her notes demonstrated how such a calculator might be able to compute Bernoulli numbers in a process that some describe as the world’s first computer program. Randolph-Macon College professor Adrian Rice says a more accurate description of Lovelace would be the world’s first debugger, since she unearthed a major error in Babbage’s calculations. Lovelace is credited with inspiring improvements to Babbage’s machine for both calculating tables and printing results.  Read the article.

DCL: As many of you might remember, the DoD’s proposed programming language  of the 1980’s, intended for all DoD applications, was named “Ada” after Ada Lovelace.  And designed by a Frenchman, Jean Ichbiah. Working on a verifier for Ada which included multi-tasking constructs,  first gave me ideas about event processing and CEP.

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