Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

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Happy Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace (1836)

Before Tesla and Turing and Edison and Einstein, there was Ada Lovelace. Those first four names are nearly all household names, especially in the world of science and technology. But Ada Lovelace is not a name one hears as often. She is often referred to as the first person to write a computer program. There is a movement based on Ada’s namesake to spread awareness of women who inspire from the world of Science Technology Engineering and Math, or more frequently referred to as STEM.

To introduce Lovelace, she was born on December 10th, 1815 and is the daughter of George Byron (you might have heard of him as well, though more commonly referred to as Lord Byron) and Annabelle Milbanke. Despite a few bouts with illness in her childhood, she expressed an interest in science. Though the word scientist hadn’t been “invented” yet, the study of science was strongly encouraged among the London elite. When Ada was 18, she was introduced to Charles Babagge. Babagge was a mathematician, philosopher and mechanical engineer. After failing to create his Difference Engine, he began working on something called an Analytical Engine. This Analytical Engine was to be used for arithmetic and general-purpose computation. Had it been built in its time, it also would have been the first machine to be Turing-complete. With his Difference Engine being unsuccessful, he was met with little support in England. He did, however, gain some followers in Italy. An Italian Mathematician wrote a paper supporting his design. Babbage approached Lovelace to translate this paper. She spent about 9 months working on this, and in addition, she included her notes on the subject as well. Within her notes, she went into great detail about how this machine could be used to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers. Her explanations and notes are in short, an algorithm.

Tabular representation of the Bernoulli Algorithm

The purpose of Ada Lovelace day is to support women and girls who want to enter into STEM careers. The movement started in 2009 with just a few blogs and a little bit of web presence. Since then it has grown into world wide events, conferences and speeches. People are encouraged to learn, read or write about their favourite women in STEM. If you want to learn more about Ada Lovelace Day, check out the website here: http://findingada.com

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