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Celebrating Women's History Month: Ada Lovelace

We're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting female scientists! Each Friday of the month on the blog (also featured on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn), we'll feature a new female scientist whom we have named one of our Animal Ambassadors after to honor them and allow our visitors to learn about scientists of all kinds. In this blog we are highlighting Ada Lovelace; learn about her work and accomplishments below!

Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation. Her mother promoted Ada's interest in mathematics and logic from a young age. Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Charles Babbage, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday, and the author Charles Dickens, contacts whom she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as "poetical science" and herself as an "analyst and metaphysician."

When she was eighteen, her mathematical talents led her to a long-working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician, Charles Babbage, who is known as "the father of computers." She was in particular interested in Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine. Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by the military engineer, Luigi Menabrea (later Prime Minister of Italy), about the Analytical Engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of seven notes, simply called "Notes."

Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers, especially since the seventh one contained what many consider to be the first computer program--that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage's personal notes from the years 1836/37 contain the first programs to the engine. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of "poetical science" led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine--examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

The computer language Ada created on behalf of the United States Department of Defense was named after Lovelace. The reference manual for the language was approved on December 10, 1980, and the Department of Defense Military Standard for the language was given the number of the year of her birth. Ada Lovelace Day is an annual event celebrated on the second Tuesday of October, which began in 2009. In July 2023, The UK's Royal Mint issued four commemorative £2 coins in various metals to "honor the innovative contributions of computer science visionary Ada Lovelace and her legacy as a female trailblazer."

Interested in learning more about Ada Lovelace? Visit! Come back every Friday in March to learn about other female scientists that our Animal Ambassadors are named after to honor them and allow our visitors to learn about scientists of all kinds.

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Lovelace's notes are significant for understanding the early development of computers, particularly as the eighth one included what is often regarded as the first computer program. geometry dash

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