Ada Lovelace Bicentenary

16 October 2015

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Somerville College is pleased to host the Ada Lovelace Bicentenary: Celebrating Women in Computer Science on Friday 16 October 2015.  Click here to view the programme.

The event celebrates the life of a mathematician and scientific visionary who was tutored and mentored by Mary Somerville. It also celebrates women in science more generally, since the College is especially proud of its tradition of women excelling in science; the College celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Dorothy Hodgkin’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry earlier this year.

Click here to view the poster

The celebration is open to alumni and students from across the university as well as to current students and Fellows of the College, and to secondary school students and teachers. There will also be a limited allocation for members of the general public. The event will last a full day and take place in the Flora Anderson Hall at Somerville College. Speakers will include:

  • Cecilia Mascolo, Professor of Mobile Systems at the University of Cambridge
  • Jennifer Widom, Professor of Computer Science and School of Engineering Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs
  • Uli Sattler, Professor in Computer Science, University of Manchester
  • Ursula Martin CBE, Professor of Computer Science, University of Oxford
  • James Essinger, author of Ada Lovelace, A Female Genius: How Ada Lovelace started the Computer Age (2013)

Professors Widom and Martin will deliver the celebration’s keynote addresses.

Somerville College will also be staging a small exhibition focused on Ada Lovelace’s literary life – Lovelace exchanged letters with Mary Somerville over a number of years.

The Ada Lovelace Bicentenary Celebration will be chaired by Mason Porter, Tutor in Applied Mathematics at Somerville College.

Ada Lovelace was born Augusta Ada Byron on 10 December 1815, the daughter of Anabella Milbanke and the poet Lord Byron. Her mother insisted that Ada study mathematics and the young girl would be tutored by Mary Somerville. (A portrait of Ada Lovelace as a young girl hangs in Somerville College Library.)

At the age of seventeen, Ada was shown the working part of an engine by Charles Babbage and immediately captivated. In 1843 she published a translation of a French article about the analytical engine – in the notes she added to the article was the first published description of a stepwise sequence of operations for solving select mathematical problems.

It is for this contribution that she was dubbed ‘the first computer programmer’. The notes also expressed her belief in the potential for computers to be useful beyond the field of mathematics.

If you are interested in attending this event, please contact Karen Mason.

For information about other planned events for the Ada Lovelace bicentennital, please see here.

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