Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer

Portrait of Ada Lovelace, via Wikimedia

Ada Lovelace’s Tumultuous Life

Ada Lovelace was born in 1815, in London, England. Her parents were Lord Byron, a famous English poet, and mathematician Lady Byron. She was the only child born to the Byrons, as the rest of Lord Byron’s children were out of wedlock, with other women.

Ada Lovelace’s Mathematical Contributions

Ada Lovelace dabbled in many areas of science and math, including some science fads that were later proven to be false. One such passion Ada had was with phrenology, the study of the correlations between skull shape and personality. She also enjoyed the study of mesmerism, a school of thought that held that all living things possessed an invisible magnetic force that had physical effects like healing. However, beyond some of her stranger fascinations. Ada was also very interested in calculus, the study of the human brain, and the properties of electricity.

A modern example of the Babbage Analytical Engine, via Brittanica
Ada’s notes on her Computer Program, via ProjectLovelace

Ada Lovelace’s Long-Lasting Legacy

Today, Ada Lovelace is remembered as a visionary pioneer in the world of mathematical history. In 1980, the US Department of Defense named their proprietary computer programming language Ada, in recognition of her impact on the field. Since 2009, Ada Lovelace Day has been celebrated on the second Tuesday of October internationally!

The Brilliant Lives of Famous Mathematicians

This article is the sixth in our series exploring the lives and achievements of famous mathematicians throughout history. (Our last article was about the British mathematician G.H. Hardy!)

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