July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Women in Engineering
Long before today’s pervasive digital computers, the first computer programmer and computer hacker was arguably Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (born in 1815 as Augusta Ada Byron, daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron). She captured the essence of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, which was conceptualized by Babbage but was not constructed in his lifetime. An exceptional mathematician, in 1843 she wrote an algorithm to accompany Babbage’s Engine and hence is an important pioneer for women in Science and Engineering. Her contribution to calculate Bernoulli numbers with the Analytical Engine has since been successfully translated, with minor changes, to the C++ programming language. As a Victorian computer programmer, it is crucial to remember that she achieved her insights through translating between languages, people, disciplines, and between the imaginary and the real. In doing so, Lovelace was a woman of her time. This paper discusses how she accomplished this somewhat hidden achievement and suggests a video and discussion activity geared toward prompting undergraduates to reframe their origin stories for computer science to include women. In another paper, we discuss the details of her algorithm and present a working program for use as an assignment for students in beginning computer classes.
Haugtvedt, E., & Abata, D. L. (2021, July), Ada Lovelace: First Computer Programmer and Hacker? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36646
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