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October 15th is the Ada Lovelace Day, an annual celebration of the achievements of women in science and technology.

Ada Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), often described as the world’s first computer programmer, showed a keen interest in mathematical studies from an early age and was taught by her mother, Annabella, who was also a gifted mathematician.

In correspondence with Charles Babbage, who was working on the ideas for a machine that is now recognised as a forerunner of the modern computer, Ada demonstrated her gift for mathematics and was described by him as “the enchantress of numbers”.

She was introduced to him by another female scientist famous in her day, the mathematician Mary Somerville, who mentored Ada during her relatively short life.

Babbage was impressed by the mathematical skills Ada possessed and invited her to translate a piece in Italian written by Luigi Menabrea describing Babbage’s ‘analytical engine’, so that it could be published in England.

Her notes include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine, while she also speculated on its future ability to create graphics and complex music.

Born in 1815, she had no relationship with her father, who died when she was eight. In 1835, she married William King, who was created Earl of Lovelace in 1838. She died in 1852 at the age of 36.

Her lasting legacy as role model for girls and young women considering careers in technology is remembered on Ada Lovelace Day, which is dedicated to the celebration of the achievements of women in science and technology. (Source: http://www.theguardian.com)

Filed under Ada Lovelace mathematics computer science algorithm science mid modern

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