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Ada Byron: Countess of Lovelace

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

       ***The follwing is content satisfying the Freshman Seminar 100 Fall 2011 F8 Beauty and Brains — Women in Science course. 

              The scientist I have chosen is Ada Byron: Countess of Lovelace. She was born and raised in London, England to a famous poet Lord Byron and Anna Isabella Milbanke in 1815. The reason I chose Ada Byron is because she was one of the very few scientists I found when I was researching that was able to keep her femininity (as seen in her pictures too) while still engage in the “masculine”  mathematics and sciences. This truly intrigued me to choose her because she proved that she was able to stay a “woman” while making many contributions to the scientific community. She was also dedicated in getting the attention of other scientists   Her importance in society is that Byron became the first ever  female computer programmer and the founder of scientific computing. Her biggest accomplishment was the creation of the Analytical Engine, a calculation which was a revolution for the computer world. She also translated this document for Charles Babbage, who initially had the idea for the Analytical Engine, but was not able to go farther than just the idea. Byron considered herself both a metaphysician and an analyst. She passed away at the young age of 36, but her findings are still notable to this day.

           Ada Augusta Byron is a great role model for aspiring future scientists. Although her initial job was only to translate the Analytical Engine, she forever changed the field of computer science by going above and beyond in her work. Unlike a majority of other female scientists, Byron was able to keep her femininity and stay into her math and sciences, which I saw as a real way to be a role model because that it staying true to what you are without changing yourself to be accepted in a community.   Many women see her as such a role model that they are pushing for the creation of an Ada Byron Appreciation day, which would be celebrated October 7th. I personally will be celebrating her tomorrow!                                                                                           Some of this countess of Lovelace’s major accomplishments include being named not only the first female, but first person to be denoted as a computer programmer, with the input she gave Charles Babbage in her notes that she added while translating his papers. Although the Analytical Engine only existed in theory, she was able to make it come to life. The United States Department of Defense later recognized her accomplishment of this and honored her by naming a programming language “Ada” in 1979.

The male scientist I chose to be a foil for my female scientist, Ada Byron Lovelace was indeed the man who started her career, Charles Babbage. I chose Babbage because I thought it would be interesting to compare both of their work ethics in the computer science and mathematics field and who got farther with their research. They both lived in the same time period, so that did not create any mishap. They came from elite households in which they began their education with very qualified private tutors. In a sense they both have qualities in them that make them a “successful scientist”, according to Anne Roe, even though Byron is a woman and Roe specified her findings toward males. Byron did not have a father or father figure in her life, and Babbage was born with an illness that required him to be isolated for most of his childhood.

While comparing both of these scientists, I realized many things. Charles Babbage was a very successful innovator, known to have invented a handful of things that are important in our lives today, yet Ada Byron’s only accomplishment was her suggestion to use the Bernoulli numbers. Although this had been a very crucial suggestion that changed the the computer world today, she seemed to be more well-known than did Babbage.

With my research, I did not find that gender influenced their career much. Inversely, I saw that being a woman for Ada Byron actually helped her in a sense because she was a woman, and she was able to do something before a man, which was widely controversial.  While other female scientists that we have learned in our course have not been able to be credited for their findings. Anything I found related to the Analytical Engine credited both Babbage and Byron Lovelace, and surprisingly this machine was associated more with Byron even though this was originally Babbage’s idea.

The organization I ended up choosing was the National Foundation of Business and Professional Women. They were formed on July 1919, on the rise towards World War I, when the role of women was quickly changed and seen very important to this time’s society, so everyone thought it would be appropriate to receive the recognition they deserved. Their mission is to empower working women to achieve their full potential and partners with employers to build successful workplaces through education, research, knowledge and policy.

Although my scientist may not directly associate herself with this organization because she was not considered as a professional business woman, she would essentially support this group as she was for the growth of women in the math and sciences, and a group that would have an impact in that would definitely be in her favor. 

Annotated Biblography and Works Cited

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

PRIMARY SOURCES:

Byron, Ada. “Selections from Ada’s Notes.” Agnes Scott College . Toole, Betty Alexandra, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/ada-love.htm>.

             This publisher is very interested and educated on the life of Ada Lovelace, as many articles about Ada have been written by her. This article is followed by the notes written by Ada herself, as she recorded her experimentation with the Analytical Engine. Her notes display her sincere dedication towards this computing program. This is very reliable information since it was written by the scientist herself, and it gives her audience a picture of how much effort she put into the creation of the Analytical Engine. 

Douglass, Frederick. “The Countess of Lovelace.” Accessible Archives.  African American Newspapers, 23 Jan. 1853. Web. 10Sept.2011.<http://www.accessible.com/accessible/print?AADocList=5&AADocStyle=STYLED&AAStyleFile=&AABeanName=toc1&AANextPage=/printFullDocFromXML.jsp&AACheck=1.900.5.0.5>.

This primary source coming from the London Inquirer does a respectable job of giving a brief background on Ada Byron’s life but it is very vague and does not adequately highlight any of her accomplishments. It was disappointing that this being one of the few primary sources found on Ada, it included many pieces of irrelevant information, such as the “softness and darkness” of her hair. This source would not be recommended for any type of serious research on this woman scientist. 

SECONDARY SOURCES:

Moore, Doris Langley. “Ada Lovelace: Founder of Scientific Computing.” San Diego Supercomputer Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/lovelace.html>.

This source focused on her mother’s influence on her career, something none of the other sources really touched on. While most mothers in this era did not push their daughters towards any career field, Ada’s mother pushed her towards her education and even took her to collaborate with Mr. Babbage. Influential people in a scientist’s life are very important to be aware of because it gives the audience an insight on how the scientists were able to have the confidence to come about with their research.


Green, Christopher D. “Classics in the History of Psychology:Lovelace (1843).”Sketch of the Analytical Engine. N.p.Web. 10 Sept. 2011.<http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Lovelace/lovelace.htm >

This source goes in detail about the math required for the Analytical Engine. The presented information is the work of both Babbage and Byron in the path of making the Analytical Engine happen. Ada Byron also worked as a translator for Babbage, so all the research for the program was translated by her. This source is very informative for those wanting to understand how the Analytical Engine works, but does not include any biographical information.


Freeman, Elisabeth. “Ada and the Analytical Engine.” Educom Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <http://net.educause.edu/apps/er/review/reviewArticles/31240.html

    This was the most detailed source I was able to find. Rather than being strictly a biography, this article gave in-depth information on how Ada Byron really contributed to the creation of the Analytical Engine. Without her, Babbage would have been unable to bring this idea to life and explain its uses to the outside world. While other sources merely mentioned Byron was the first female computer programmer, this article explained how she was able to do so without severe sexism.

 

Stansfier, Ryan . “Augusta Ada Byron.” Florida Institute of Technology. N.p., 24 Aug. 2004. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <cs.fit.edu/~ryan/ada/lovelace.html>.

              This source highlighted the main points in Ada Byron’s life. A piece of relevant information obtained from this website was the dedication Ada had put in order to gain the attention from Babbage. Once he saw how hard she was trying to get his attention, he realized how talented she really was. This resource would have been very good, but it is lacking in-depth information.

 

Moore, Doris Langley. “Ada Lovelace: Founder of Scientific Computing.” San Diego Supercomputer Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/lovelace.html>.

              This source focused on her mother’s influence on her career, something none of the other sources really touched on. While most mothers in this era did not push their daughters towards any career field, Ada’s mother pushed her towards her education and even took her to collaborate with Mr. Babbage. Influential people in a scientist’s life are very important to be aware of because it gives the audience an insight on how the scientists were able to have the confidence to come about with their research

 

PRESENTATION WORKS CITED:

Swade, Doron. The Difference Engine: Charles Babbage and the Quest   to Build the First Computer. New York: Viking, 2000.

Babbage, Charles (1791 – 1871). (2002). In The Cambridge Dictionary of   Scientists. Retrieved from   http://www.credoreference.com/entry/dicscientist/babbag  e_charles_1791_1871


Moore, Doris Langley. “Ada Lovelace: Founder of Scientific   Computing.” 
San Diego Supercomputer Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11   Sept. 2011.   <http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/lovelace.html>.

“Current Statistics for Women in Computing.” CSSU | Computer Science Student   Union. Web. 25 Oct. 2011. <http://www.cssu-  bg.org/WomeninCS/current_statistics.php>.

Green, Christopher D. “Classics in the History of Psychology:Lovelace (1843).”Sketch of the Analytical Engine. N.p.Web. 10 Sept. 2011.

<http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Lovelace/lovelace.htm >

Stansfier, Ryan . “Augusta Ada Byron.” Florida Institute of Technology. N.p., 24 Aug. 2004. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <cs.fit.edu/~ryan/ada/lovelace.html>.

Moore, Doris Langley. “Ada Lovelace: Founder of Scientific Computing.” San Diego Supercomputer Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/lovelace.html>.

Freeman, Elisabeth. “Ada and the Analytical Engine.” EducomReview. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <http://net.educause.edu/apps/er/review/reviewArticles/31240.html>.

Douglass, Frederick. “The Countess of Lovelace.” Accessible Archives.  African American Newspapers, 23 Jan. 1853. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <http://www.accessible.com/accessible/print?AADocList=5&AADocStyle=STYLED&AAStyleFile=&AABeanName=toc1&AANextPage=/printFullDocFromXML.jsp&AACheck=1.900.5.0.5>.

Byron, Ada. “Selections from Ada’s Notes.” Agnes Scott College . Toole, Betty Alexandra, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/ada-love.htm>.

 http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=298

“About BPW Foundation.” Business and Professional Women’s   Foundation. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.   <http://www.bpwfoundation.org/index.php/about/>.

“Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_and_Professional_Women’s_Foundation>.


 



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