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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Wolfram’

Below is the obituary of Lady Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and a pioneer of computational theory and mechanical computation.  Here is her fascinating story, thoroughly researched and beautifully presented by Stephen Wolfram  as part of a celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth.

Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace

Renowned scientist Stephen Wolfram dives into the relationship that gave birth to the age of computers

Portrait of Ada Lovelace at age 20 (from The New York Public Library)

Ada Lovelace was born 200 years ago this month. To some she is a great hero in the history of computing; to others an overestimated minor figure. I’ve been curious for a long time what the real story is. And in preparation for her bicentennial, I decided to try to solve what for me has always been the “mystery of Ada.”

It was much harder than I expected. Historians disagree. The personalities in the story are hard to read. The technology is difficult to understand. The whole story is entwined with the customs of 19th-century British high society. And there’s a surprising amount of misinformation and misinterpretation out there.

But after quite a bit of research — including going to see many original documents — I feel like I’ve finally gotten to know Ada Lovelace, and gotten a grasp on her story. In some ways it’s an ennobling and inspiring story; in some ways it’s frustrating and tragic.

It’s a complex story, and to understand it, we’ll have to start by going over quite a lot of facts and narrative.

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