Case Study – Ada Lovelace

 

Welcome to the introduction of “Women of the Week”!

Every week we will feature the amazing input of women in STEM to create a snap shot of all the contributions that women have made to the world.

Mixing from the days of yore to more contemporary times, women have been creating and empowering change, so it’s only fair that they get some more time in the lime light.

And where better to start than the beginning!

For our first case study we have: Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace.

As an English mathematician, and writer, Ada was the child of infamous poet Lord Byron.

She is well know for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She contributed her notes on the Engine that is recognized as the first algorithm, and because of this, she is also known as the first computer programmer.

Her father had called her the “Princess of Parallelograms” in affectionate reverence for her mathematical talents, as a calculating antagonist, a “Mathematical Medea,” and later came to mock her in his famous epic poem Don Juan:

“Her favourite science was the mathematical… She was a walking calculation.”

In his book “The Innovators” Walter Isaacson, an American writer and journalist, and CEO of the Aspen Institute, wrote:

“Ada’s ability to appreciate the beauty of mathematics is a gift that eludes many people, including some who think of themselves as intellectual. She realized that math was a lovely language, one that describes the harmonies of the universe and can be poetic at times. Despite her mother’s efforts, she remained her father’s daughter, with a poetic sensibility that allowed her to view an equation as a brushstroke that painted an aspect of nature’s physical splendor, just as she could visualize the “wine-dark sea” or a woman who “walks in beauty, like the night.” But math’s appeal went even deeper; it was spiritual. Math “constitutes the language through which alone we can adequately express the great facts of the natural world,” she said, and it allows us to portray the “changes of mutual relationship” that unfold in creation. It is “the instrument through which the weak mind of man can most effectually read his Creator’s works.”

Her contributions have meant so much to the world that there is even a Ada Lovelace Day!

Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.

For more on Ada and her work visit:

Biography.com or Mentalfloss.com

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