Technological contribution

Criticism

Allan G. Bromley, in the 1990 essay Difference and Analytical Engines, wrote:[1]

All but one of the programs cited in her notes had been prepared by Babbage from three to seven years earlier. The exception was prepared by Babbage for her, although she did detect a 'bug' in it. Not only is there no evidence that Ada ever prepared a program for the Analytical Engine, but her correspondence with Babbage shows that she did not have the knowledge to do so.

In his PhD thesis, Bruce Collier, who went on to write a minor biography of Babbage aimed at school children, claimed:

It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that Babbage wrote the 'Notes' to Menabrea's paper, but for reasons of his own encouraged the illusion in the minds of Ada and the public that they were authored by her. It is no exaggeration to say that she was a manic depressive with the most amazing delusions about her own talents, and a rather shallow understanding of both Charles Babbage and the Analytical Engine.[2]


Defence

Lovelace worked for nine months on her article while consulting with Babbage. By Babbage's own admission, she pointed out what otherwise might have been remembered as the first computer bug in his equations.Of Lovelace's contribution, Babbage wrote, in his Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864):[3]

Then suggested that she add some notes to Menabrea's memoir, an idea which was immediately adopted. We discussed together the various illustrations that might be introduced; I suggested several but the selection was entirely her own. So also was the algebraic working out of the different problems, except, indeed, that relating to the numbers of Bernoulli, which I had offered to do to save Lady Lovelace the trouble. This she sent back to me for an amendment, having detected a grave mistake which I had made in the process.

The curator and author Doron Swade, in his 2001 book The Difference Engine, writes:

The first algorithms or stepwise operations leading to a solution—what we now recognize as a 'program', although the word was used neither by her nor by Babbage—were certainly published under her name. But the work had been completed by Babbage much earlier.[4]

Commemoration

Ada (programming language)

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 10 December 1980 and the Department of Defense Military Standard for the language.

Since 1998 the British Computer Society has awarded a medal in her name[5] and in 2008 initiated an annual competition for women students of computer science.[6] In the UK the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium, the annual conference for women undergraduates is named after Lovelace.[7]

An illustration inspired by the A. E. Chalon portrait created for the Ada Initiative, which supports open technology and women



Ada Lovelace Day" is an annual event celebrated in mid-October[8] whose goal is to "... raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths," and to "create new role models for girls and women" in these fields.


References

[1]Bromley, Allan G. (1990), ""Difference and Analytical Engines", in Aspray, William, Computing Before Computers, Iowa State Press.
[2]Collier, Bruce (1990) [1970], The Little Engines That Could've, Garland Science, p. 4
[3]Babbage, Charles (1864). Passages from the life of a philosopher. p. 136. ISBN 0-8135-2066-5.
[4]Swade, Doron (2001), The Difference Engine, Penguin.
[5]"Lovelace Lecture & Medal". BCS. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
[6]"Undergraduate Lovelace Colloquium, BCSWomen". Leeds. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
[7]Kremer, William (1 August 2013). "Crossrail: Where is it in the list of 'big digs'?". BBC News.
[8]"FAQ". About. Finding Ada. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
[9]Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Updated 22 July 2004, 10:55 UTC. Encyclopedia on-line. Available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endangered Species. Internet. Retrieved 10 August 2004.