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Ada Lovelace: Programmer and Countess

Oct 16, 2012 by Meggie Lasher


Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Today let’s celebrate the accomplishments of women in STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering, and Math). Countess Ada Lovelace serves as the figurehead for honoring under appreciated achievements of women in STEM related fields.

Ada Lovelace, née Augusta Ada Byron, was the daughter of poet Lord Byron. Instead of pursuing a career in her father’s footsteps, she heeded her mother’s advice and studied mathematics. Her interest and diligent study contributed to the first written code for a counting machine created by Charles Babbage, a professor at Cambridge University.

Lovelace published her own extensive commentary about Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Her description accurately explained her own programming and understanding of the machine’s use beyond calculating Bernoulli numbers. Unfortunately, societal standards prevented Lovelace from rightfully ascribing her name to her work. Babbage took the credit. However, thirty years later Lovelace received full credit as the author of her work. In 1979, the U.S. Department of Defense named their computer programming language ADA in her honor.

Today, Ada Lovelace is remembered annually in October to help bring recognition to women’s discoveries and successes in STEM fields.  On this day of recognition and remembrance, be sure to spread the word about Ada!

If you’re interested in learning more, check out these resources about Ada Lovelace, her life, family, and contributions:

The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron’s Daughter
by Benjamin Woolley
The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron
by Joan Baum
Ada: a Life and Legacy
by Dorothy Stein
Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Byron’s Legitimate Daughter
by Doris Langley Moore

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Sources:

Moncrief, J. William. "Lovelace, Ada Byron." Mathematics. Ed. Barry Max Brandenberger, Jr. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2002. 175-176. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.

Moncrief-Mullane, Heather M."(Augusta) Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace." Science and Its Times. Ed. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer. Vol. 5: 1800 to 1899. Detroit: Gale, 2000. 266-267. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.

Grier, David A. "King, Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 22. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008. 118-120. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.

"Lovelace, Ada Byron, Countess of (1815–1852)." Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Ed. Anne Commire and Deborah Klezmer. Vol. 1. Detroit: Yorkin Publications, 2007. 1160. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.

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