Person: King, Augusta Ada
Ada Lovelace was a daughter of Lord Byron who became interested in Babbage's analytic engine and described how it could be programmed.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Lord Byron never returned to England and died in Greece when Ada was eight years old.
- Lady Byron had been interested in the study of mathematics herself.
- Given this mathematical frame of mind, which Lord Byron clearly did not share, it was natural that Lady Byron should try to encourage Ada in that direction.
- Music, Lady Byron believed, was a topic that provided a girl with the right social skills so this was also emphasised in Ada's education.
- However although Lady Byron devoted much energy to organise Ada's upbringing she herself seems to have spent very little time with her.
- A number of tutors were employed, often for only a short period, to direct Ada's education.
- On discovering that Ada preferred geography to arithmetic, Lady Byron insisted that one of Ada's geography lessons be replaced by an arithmetic lesson and shortly after this Miss Lamont was replaced as Ada's tutor.
- Ada's mathematical education was undertaken by a number of private tutors.
- William Frend, who had tutored Lady Byron in mathematics, was involved in Ada's mathematical education but by this time he was an old man who had not kept pace with mathematical developments.
- Dr William King was also engaged as a tutor to Ada in 1829 but his interest in mathematics was not very deep and he confessed that he had studied mathematics by reading it rather than by doing it.
- We say King "the tutor" since by 1834 there was a second William King in Ada Byron's life, namely the man she would marry in the following year.
- Returning to the tutors Lady Byron employed to teach the thirteen year old Ada we might also mention Miss Arabella Lawrence who Lady Byron instructed to change Ada's "argumentative disposition".
- In 1833 Ada Byron was presented at court and, on the 5 June that year, she met Charles Babbage at a party.
- Ada Byron enjoyed attending mathematics and scientific demonstrations with Mary Somerville, but she also enjoyed her company on other occasions.
- As we mentioned above, in 1833 Ada Byron (as she still was at that time) had become interested in Babbage's analytic engine and, ten years later, she produced an annotated translation of Menabrea's Notions sur la machine analytique de Charles Babbage (1842).
- In the annotations, which were called "Notes", Ada Lovelace described how the Analytical Engine could be programmed and gave what many consider to be the first ever computer program.
- Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.
- In 1852, when only 37 years of age, Ada died of cancer.
Born 10 December 1815, Piccadilly, Middlesex (now in London), England. Died 27 November 1852, Marylebone, London, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin England, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive