3 Important Things to Thank Ada Lovelace For

Ada Lovelace, born in 1815 as Augusta Ada Byron, is heralded as the first programmer due to her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

But why?

Ada was commissioned to translate Babbage’s 1840 lecture at the University of Turin, transcribed in French by a young engineer. While doing so, Ada added her own notes to the paper – including an algorithm written to allow the Analytical Engine to interpret a sequence of rational numbers named the Bernoulli numbers. These notes were not only more extensive than the original lecture, but are also considered to be the first instance of a computer program ever published.

Ada also understood the power of the Analytical Engine as more than a glorified abacus, and its superiority over previous calculating machines; it could be programmed to solve problems of any complexity. Each number didn’t have to simply represent quantity, but anything. If the machine could interpret numerical data, it could interpret, in Ada’s vision, anything.

On that note, here are 3 things we wouldn’t have today without Ada Lovelace.



An Extremely Secure Coding Language Used By The Department of Defence

Ada is, according to Wikipedia, “a structuredstatically typedimperativewide-spectrum, and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages. It has built-in language support for design-by-contract, extremely strong typing, explicit concurrency, offering tasks, synchronous message passing, protected objects, and non-determinism.”  Ada was designed between 1977 and ’83, and inspired by Lovelace herself.  Obviously, it requires a certain level of security to be of use to Government agencies such as the DOD.

Ada lovelace inspired a coding language

“Hello, World!” in Ada.



The Imitation Game

I’m not just talking about the film here, but in face Alan Turing’s whole philosophy was inspired by Ada Lovelace.

“[Turing] starts thinking about the difference between human imagination and machine intelligence. And it goes back to what he calls Lady Lovelace’s objection. It goes back to Ada Lovelace a hundred years earlier who had said machines will be able to do everything except think.”

Walter Isaacson

If it weren’t for Ada, Alan Turing may never have developed the Turing test. Ada Lovelace was, by all accounts, a dreamer who believed that humans and machines could work together to create a better future.



Women in STEM

If it weren’t for influential women like Ada Lovelace working  in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, we wouldn’t have the incredible role models we have for girls today. Her name sits comfortably among other incredible women such as Marie Curie and Hedy Lamarr. Unfortunately, women haven’t always been encouraged to pursue their passions in STEM, and so it’s barrier breakers such as Ada who help to unlock the potential from 50% of the population.



That’s just the direct links to Lovelace…

If we’re talking about all things we now have because of the first computer and computer language, we can thanks Lovelace indirectly for a lot. The World Wide Web, your phone, ordering a Dominos from your phone on the World Wide Web, Eugene Goostman… In fact, it’s Ada Lovelace’s influence that allowed you to read this blog, and for that I thank her.