Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Poetry comes in many forms. Lord Byron, father of Ada Lovelace, was a romantic poet. Lovelace translated Luigi Menabrea's notes on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a proposed mechanical calculating device with storage. In her notes accompanying the translation, Lovelace made a number of striking observations. She noted that the Analytical Engine was a device for manipulating not just numbers, but symbols. Lovelace showed how to use the machine for calculating Bernoulli numbers, writing, in essence, the first computer program. Her tutor, the logician Augustus de Morgan, described Lovelace as creative and determined "to get beyond the current bounds of knowledge." Lovelace's work lay forgotten for almost a century, but was republished in 1953. In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense named Ada, a new computer language, after Lovelace.
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
This photo and biography was featured on MAA's Women of Mathematics poster.