Lady Ada’s Algorithm
Imagine a baby girl, born in nineteenth century England, who studied music, French, and especially mathematics as a child, growing into a uniquely talented woman who is recognized today as the “world’s first computer programmer.” Her name is Ada Lovelace, and the book, Ada’s Ideas, by Fiona Robinson, beautifully illustrates her life with pristinely cut, assembled, and photographed Japanese watercolors on every page.
As the daughter of Lord George Gordon Byron, the famous British poet, and Anne Milbanke, a gifted mathematician, Ada inherited a fanciful imagination and razor sharp math skills. She dreamed of creating a steam-powered flying horse and visited newly built factories during the Industrial Revolution, marveling at the wonders of modern engineering as they produced cloth, glass, and paper at amazing speeds. Entering debutante society at the age of sixteen, she brushed elbows with and was introduced to the brightest minds of the time: Charles Dickens, Michael Faraday, and most importantly, the inventor, Charles Babbage.
Mr. Babbage invented The Difference Engine, a steam powered calculator, The Analytical Engine, widely considered as the world’s first computer design, and found inspiration in The Jacquard Loom, a machine that created beautiful woven patterns out of silk. These devices helped Ada determine the programming instructions for hole-punched cards that could possibly be used in other machines.
Ada believed machines “could be programmed to create pictures, music, and words” and worked extensively with Bernoulli numbers so they could perform mathematical and other complex tasks. Unfortunately, Ada died 100 years before the first working computers were created in the 1950s, but her remarkable contributions to computer science remain significant and everlasting in the technology driven, 21st century world. This is a great book to highlight the role of women in STEM related fields. Grades 1-3.
You can check out Ada's Ideas at your local library or request it for home delivery by clicking on the title below: