Person: Booth (2), Kathleen
Pioneering Kathleen Booth developed the first assembly language, co-invented the Booth multiplier and linking loader, and co-commercialized the first compiler.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Kathleen began her schooling in 1929 at St Paul's Convent in Sutton Coldfield.
- After a year at Sutton Coldfield High School, Kathleen moved to West Bromwich Secondary School.
- When war was declared in 1939, the girls were evacuated to Pates Grammar School in Cheltenham and it was there that Kathleen completed her schooling.
- On 2 October 1941, Kathleen entered Royal Holloway College, London having won a scholarship of £40 for 3 years.
- The team was led by John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971) and Andrew Donald Booth (1918-2009) who had joined in 1945 after completing a Ph.D. in crystallography at the University of Birmingham in 1944.
- In 1946, the year Britten joined, the research group had moved into premises supplied by the British Rubber Producers Research Association and the Association were sponsoring Andrew Booth's work on computers.
- On 28 February 1947 both Kathleen Britten and Andrew Booth left Southampton on the S S Queen Elizabeth and arrived in New York on 5 March.
- Andrew Booth had visited New York in the United States in 1946, returning to England in September.
- During their time in the United States, Britten and Booth spent time working at the Computer Project of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and at the U.S. Ordnance Department.
- While at the Institute for Advanced Study, Britten and Booth co-authored the reports General considerations in the design of an all-purpose electronic digital computer (1947) and Coding for the A.R.C. (1947).
- In June 1947 Andrew Booth made a visit to Canada, returning to the Institute for Advanced Study.
- They travelled back to England on different ships, Britten arriving back in Southampton on the S S Queen Elizabeth on 8 September 1947 while Booth arrived in Liverpool on 12 September 1947 on the Cunard White Star ship Media.
- On 1 October 1947 Andrew Booth and Kathleen Britten submitted the paper The accuracy of atomic co-ordinates derived from Fourier series in X-ray crystallography.
- This paper continued work that Andrew Booth had been undertaking but developing it further with mathematical skills from Britten.
- From the start, Kathleen was closely involved in the building and testing of the computers that Andrew designed.
- Andrew and Kathleen Booth co-authored the book Automatic digital calculators which was published in 1953.
- Back in London, Kathleen Booth directed the development of suitable programs for translation.
- Kathleen and Andrew Booth were working in Birkbeck College's Computer Laboratory but in 1957 a Governors' Resolution converted that into a separate university department named the Department of Numerical Automation.
- Andrew Booth was head of the Department, which some claim to be the first department in the UK to teach computing.
- Kathleen Booth taught courses on programming in the Department of Numerical Automation and this led naturally to her writing a book on programming.
- In 1958 Kathleen Booth published the book Programming for an automatic digital calculator.
- Kathleen and Andrew Booth did outstanding work at Birkbeck College but felt that they were not being given the credit they deserved.
- In particular, Andrew Booth was head of the very successful Department of Numerical Automation but was not being promoted to a professorship.
- In 1962 both Kathleen and Andrew Booth resigned their positions at Birkbeck College and decided to make a new life for themselves in Canada.
- In Canada, both Kathleen and Andrew Booth worked at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
- Kathleen was appointed as a research fellow and a lecturer.
- Kathleen Booth delivered the paper Canadian attitudes towards the employment of women in the technical professions and it was published in the Conference Proceedings.
- Dave Bocking took a course given by Kathleen Booth at the University of Saskatchewan in 1971.
- Kathleen and Andrew Booth left the University of Saskatchewan in 1972.
- On the side our work on Movable Type had continued under the supervision of Dr Kathleen Booth and our system had been demonstrated to the Queen's Printer.
- In 1972 Andrew Booth was appointed as President of Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario.
- Kathleen Booth also left the University of Saskatchewan at this time and was appointed as an honorary Professor of Mathematics at Lakehead University.
- Both Kathleen and Ian Booth give their address on the paper as Autonetics Research Associates, Inc., Sooke, BC, Canada.
- Andrew Booth was 91 years old when he died in a hospital of heart and kidney failure on 29 November 2009 in Victoria.
- Shortly before, on 9 June 2022, the Andrew and Kathleen Booth Memorial Lecture was given at Birkbeck College and Kathleen sent a video message which was played after the main lecture.
- Birthday wishes were sent from the meeting to Kathleen.
- Since Kathleen and Andrew Booth worked in close cooperation for almost the whole of their careers, it is difficult to separate their achievements.
- One very important contribution that Kathleen made was developing assembly language.
- Andrew was a very outgoing figure … where Kathleen was very quiet and kind of worked in the background.
- Together they produced the "Booth multiplier algorithm" and the first rotating storage device.
- Professor George Roussos, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, said: "We are delighted to offer the Kathleen Booth Anniversary PhD Studentship in Computer Science with support from Google to celebrate Kathleen's contributions and achievements as one of the earliest women computer science pioneers.
Born 9 July 1922, Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England. Died 29 September 2022, Sooke, Vancouver Island, Canada.
View full biography at [MacTutor](https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Booth_Kathleen/
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive