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Calendar Curiosities: Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

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On December 10th, 1815, Augusta Ada King, born Augusta Ada Byron, known later as Ada Lovelace, came into the world. Born the only legitimate child of  poet Lord Byron, she would grow to become an accomplished mathematician, and arguably one of the first computer programmers.

Growing up, Ada was often sick and she found herself bedridden after a bout of measles. During this time, she kept up with her studies, especially mathematics. Her career truly kicked off in 1833 when Ada was introduced to inventor and mathematician Charles Babbage. Fascinated by his analytical engine designs (it would not actually be built until after Babbage’s death) she dove in to the theoretical functions of the machine. The notes she made while translating Luigi Menabrea‘s memoir on the machine ended up being longer than the memoir herself. She eventually published her notes, which contained a program to calculate bernoulli numbers and the early workings of digital music. The Countess of Lovelace died in November of 1852.

…Or better yet, what really happened was that she joined forces with Charles Babbage to fight crime. You can read about how they used their mathematical prowess to defeat vampire poets and street musicians in 2D Goggles: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a steampunk retelling of Lovelace’s tale by comic artist and animator Sydney Padua.

In honor of Ada’s birthday, Padua advises to make sure your mathematical computations are in order, as the Countess of Lovelace is known to fly around and check them for bugs.

For more about Ada Lovelace, check out the work of science historian Betty Toole.
Sydney Padua’s official website can be viewed here.

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