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To some she is a great hero in the history of computing; to others an overestimated minor figure. It was much harder than I expected. The personalities in the story are hard to read.
The technology is difficult to understand. The whole story is entwined with the customs of 19th-century British high society. This essay is also in: Ada Byron, as she was then called, was born in London on December 10, to recently married high-society parents.
Her father, Lord Byron George Gordon Byron was 27 years old, and had just achieved rock-star status in England for his poetry. Her mother, Annabella Milbanke, was a year-old heiress committed to progressive causes, who inherited the title Baroness Wentworth.
In addition to writing poetry and flouting the social norms of his time, he was often doing the unusual: Her very brief marriage to Byron fell apart when Ada was just 5 weeks old, and Ada never saw Byron again though he kept a picture of her on his desk and famously mentioned her in his poetry.
He died at the age of 36, at the height of his celebrityhood, when Ada was 8. Her mother, often absent for various quite wacky health cures, enforced a system of education for Ada that involved long hours of study and exercises in self control.
Ada learned history, literature, languages, geography, music, chemistry, sewing, shorthand and mathematics taught in part through experiential methods to the level of elementary geometry and algebra.
When Ada was 11, she went with her mother and an entourage on a year-long tour of Europe. But then she got sick with measles and perhaps encephalitis —and ended up bedridden and in poor health for 3 years. She finally recovered in time to follow the custom for society girls of the period: Apparently she charmed the host, and he invited her and her mother to come back for a demonstration of his newly constructed Difference Engine: Charles Babbage What was the story of Charles Babbage?
His father was an enterprising and successful if personally distant goldsmith and banker. Babbage graduated from Cambridge in a year before Ada Lovelace was bornwent to live in London with his new wife, and started establishing himself on the London scientific and social scene.
In Babbage visited France, and learned about the large-scale government project there to make logarithm and trigonometry tables. Mathematical tables were of considerable military and commercial significance in those days, being used across science, engineering and finance, as well as in areas like navigation.
It was often claimed that errors in tables could make ships run aground or bridges collapse. State of the Art There were mechanical calculators long before Babbage. Pascal made one inand we now know there was even one in antiquity. Tables were made by human computers, with the work divided across a team, and the lowest-level computations being based on evaluating polynomials say from series expansions using the method of differences.
What Babbage imagined is that there could be a machine—a Difference Engine—that could be set up to compute any polynomial up to a certain degree using the method of differences, and then automatically step through values and print the results, taking humans and their propensity for errors entirely out of the loop.
Museum of the History of Science By earlythe year-old Babbage was busy studying different types of machinery, and producing plans and prototypes of what the Difference Engine could be. Babbage was slightly distracted in by the prospect of joining a life insurance startup, for which he did a collection of life-table calculations.
Babbage had them printed on yellow paper on the theory that this would minimize user error.
When I was in elementary school, logarithm tables were still the fast way to do multiplication. The same year, though, his wife died. She had had eight children with him, but only three survived to adulthood.
Though often distracted, Babbage continued to work on the Difference Engine, generating thousands of pages of notes and designs.Math Methodology is a three part series on instruction, assessment, and curriculum. Sections contains relevant essays and resources: Part 1: Math Methodology: Instruction The Instruction Essay (Page 1 of 3) on this page contains the following subsections: Introduction to Teaching Challenges.
I’m an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities.
That’s why I spent the last three years as Google’s Design Ethicist caring about how to design things in a way that defends a billion people’s minds from getting hijacked. Aftermath: Sixteen Writers on Trump’s America Essays by Toni Morrison, Atul Gawande, Hilary Mantel, George Packer, Jane Mayer, Jeffrey Toobin, Junot Díaz, and more.
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