Archive for the ‘fsemf82011’ Category

Ada Augusta Byron, The Countess of Lovelace

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

                   Children of celebrities are assumed to have the best of everything in life. From schooling to clothes to access of money, in the eyes of normal people they seem to have it all. But in the case of Ada Byron, The Countess of Lovelace, her life was the exact opposite. She was born on December 10th, 1815 to Lord George Byron and Anna Milbanke. Shortly after her birth, her infamous poet of a father separated from her mother. Although Milbanke was extremely cautious when taking her daughter out of the house for fear of her being stolen away by Byron, her worries were of her own imagination because Byron could not even afford to take his legitimate daughter with him out of the country. Once he left England, he never saw Ada again. With Byron gone, Milbanke wanted to make sure that Ada would be nothing like her father so she was tutored in math rather than in literature. Even though, Ada never actually knew her father she sympathized with him and would not let her mother’s harsh remarks over his person and character affect her feelings toward him. When she turned 17, Ada was introduced to an older man named Charles Babbage who was developing what we now know is a computer. Interested in his findings, Ada continued to learn more about mathematics to assist Babbage in his work even after marrying Lord William King and bearing him three children. Her math tutors consisted of William Frend, Mary Somerville, and Augustus De Morgan. With their help she was able to develop her own theories and notes, mainly her notes on Bernoulli numbers, and translate Babbage’s work to the general English public (L.F. Menabrea wrote about Babbage’s work in French). Unfortunately, on November 27th, 1852 she died of uterine cancer. Her last wish was to be buried beside herfather who she had never known. Her contribution to Babbage’s work is the reason why people have access to computers today and she should be remembered fondly as the first woman computer programmer.