Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Celebrate Women in STEM

The second Tuesday of every October, the world celebrates women in science with Ada Lovelace Day. Established officially in 2009, the event’s name honors mathematician and writer Augusta Ada Lovelace (also known to some as the first computer programmer). Find out more about this history of Ada Lovelace Day

In the award-winning The Computing Universe by Tony Hey of Microsoft Research and Gyuri Pápay of the University of Southampton, the authors describe the relationship between Ada Lovelace and mathematician Charles Babbage:

“Lovelace first met Babbage at one of his popular evening entertainments in 1833 when she was seventeen. Less than two weeks later, she and her mother were given a personal demonstration of his small prototype version of his computing engine. Unusually for women of the time, at the insistence of her father, Ada had had some mathematical training. After this first meeting with Babbage, Ada got married and had children but in 1839 she wrote to Babbage asking him to recommend a mathematics tutor for her. Babbage recommended Augustus De Morgan, a well-known mathematician who had made significant contributions to both algebra and logic. Ada had a very high opinion of her own abilities and wrote to Babbage that ‘the more I study, the more insatiable do I feel my genius for it to be.’ Her opinion of her talent is supported, in part at least, by a letter written by De Morgan to her mother. In the letter, De Morgan suggested that Ada’s abilities could lead her to become ‘an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first-rate eminence.'”

Today at Bletchley Park, the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre will launch a new branch of the Suffrage Science scheme ‘Maths and Computing.’ Twelve women, including several Cambridge University Press authors, are being honored for their contributions to the field that pave the way for women to grow and prosper in a male-dominated industry.

Honorees include Cambridge authors Christl Donnelly, Imperial College London and Frances Kirwan, University of Oxford. Check out the full list of winners

Image courtesy of Dino Gravato, Flickr Creative Commons and excerpt from The Computing Universe by Tony Hey and Gyuri Pápay, pages 14-15.

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