News headlines - August 2015
Ada Lovelace 200th anniversary celebrations at Oxford University
In 2015 the University of Oxford will celebrate the 200th
anniversary of the birth of computer visionary Ada Lovelace.
The centrepiece of the celebrations will be a display at the
University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library (13 October - 18 December 2015)
and a Symposium (9 and 10 December 2015), presenting Lovelace’s life and work,
and contemporary thinking on computing and artificial intelligence.
For more information or to register your interest see
Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), is best known for a remarkable article
about Charles Babbage’s unbuilt computer, the Analytical Engine.
This presented the first documented computer program, to calculate the
Bernoulli numbers, and explained the ideas underlying Babbage’s
machine and every one of the billions of computers and computer programs
in use today.
Going beyond Babbage’s ideas of computers as manipulating numbers,
Lovelace also wrote about their creative possibilities and limits:
her contribution was highlighted in one of Alan Turing’s most famous papers
Can a machine think?.
Lovelace had wide scientific and intellectual interests and studied with
scientist Mary Somerville, and with Augustus De Morgan,
a leading mathematician and pioneer in logic and algebra.
The display, in the Bodleian’s new Weston Library, will offer a chance to
see Lovelace’s correspondence with Babbage, De Morgan, Somerville and others,
and her childhood exercises and mathematical notes.
The Symposium, on 9th and 10th December 2015,
is aimed at a broad audience interested in the history and culture of
mathematics and computer science, presenting current scholarship
on Lovelace’s life and work, and linking her ideas to contemporary thinking
about computing, artificial intelligence and the brain.
Confirmed speakers so far include Lovelace’s direct descendent the Earl of
Lytton, Lovelace biographer Betty Toole, computer historian Doron Swade,
historian Richard Holmes, computer scientist Moshe Vardi and graphic novelist
Other activities will include a workshop for early career researchers, a
“Music and Machines” event, and a dinner in Balliol College
on 9th December, the eve of Lovelace’s 200th birthday.
Oxford’s celebration is led by the Bodleian Libraries and the University
of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science, working with colleagues in
the Mathematics Institute, Oxford e-Research Centre, Balliol College,
Somerville College, the Department of English and TORCH.
Oxford has a remarkable history of programming research, with two winners of
the ACM A M Turing Award, the Nobel Prize for Computer Science,
and the unique breadth and depth of Oxford’s expertise brings a variety
of perspectives to understanding Lovelace and the remarkable intellectual
community around her, whose ideas underpin modern computing.