Talk:Ada Lovelace

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Miscellaneous contributions to the talk page[edit]

The opening section says 'She is today appreciated as the "first programmer" since she was writing programs—that is, manipulating symbols according to rules ...'. However, 'manipulating symbols according to rules' is not what a programmer does. If she deserves the title of the first programmer, her work should be described to justify that more clearly.

Also, I agree with the 1 Feb. 2008 comment regarding paternalism and appeal to someone to fix that.

I would address these issues myself if I knew enough to do so.

--Jreiss17 (talk) 22:33, 13 July 2009 (UTC)


Um, doesn't this article seem a bit paternalistic? Throughout it, it refers to Lovelace simply by her first name, while men in the story are referred to by last name. Either the women should receive similar treatment, or we'll have to go through and change references to Babbage to "Chuck". —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.140.122.72 (talk) 14:38, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

I assume she is called Ada due to her peerage. Similar as this woman is called Victoria instead of Mrs. Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and this man Napoleon instead of Monsieur Bonaparte. --Cyfal (talk) 17:02, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

At least, I think that's the version...I read it from a mirror while the server was down.


This seems to be getting close to a definitive work now. Thanks for all the contributions and the first two links.

I learned a lot researching this! --Buz Cory


As best I can figure out, Lady Ada was born Augusta Ada Byron, Ada being her middle name. Can anyone confirm this for certain?


There are fragments of her notes on the analytical engine in one of the links I added. These will be put in the /notes page as I get the chance. Does anyone have access to the full notes as published in either The Ladies Diary or Taylors Memoirs? -- Buz Cory


The full article she translated and annotated is online. Link is on the analytical engine page.

I think it is exaggerated to claim that "she anticipated much of what is now taught as computer science". She described a general purpose computer and produced several example programs, that's it. She deserves the title of first programmer. If you look at contemporary computer science, you see stacks, trees, queues, sorting algorithms, graph algorithms, object oriented paradigm, compiler construction, operating systems etc. None of this was anticipated by Ada. --AxelBoldt

----
Thanks. That comment about "much of computer science" was based on the opinion of another. Now that I have read (or at least skimmed) the "Notes" myself, I am inclined to agree with you. And BTW, most of the stuff you mention has been around for four or five decades. Little of it is new.
I now have the entire text on my own workstation and will be working to convert it to XHTML, replacing most or all of the images with textual equations and tables. Mebbe sometime next week will have something. Don't see at the moment how this can be easily added to Wikipedia.
--Buz Cory

Is there any reason to believe that Lady Lovelace's writings about the Analytical Engine contain any ideas that were not communicated to her by Charles Babbage, including the instructions for the Bernoulli calculation? -- Hank Ramsey


Yes; during the time when Ada was adding her own notes to the Menabrea article (at Babbage's suggestion), she corresponded regularly with Babbage, and those letters are preserved. It is quite clear from them that many significant ideas (for example, that such an engine might be used to compose music, or draw pictures) were hers, and that Babbage himself required a bit of convincing before accepting her vision. --LDC


Hopefully someone can add these details to the article? - HWR


Babbage speaks highly of Ada in his autobiography, a chapter of which is online at the Analytical Engine page http://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/


A brief investigation turned up the following statement by Allan G. Bromley from "Difference and Analytical Engines", in Computing Before Computers(1990), edited by William Aspray:

Ada Lovelace has sometimes been acclaimed as the "world's first programmer" on the strength of her authorship of the notes to the Menabrea paper. This romantically appealing image is without foundation. 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 Lovelace ever prepared a program for the Analytical Engine but her correspondence with Babbage shows that she did not have the knowledge to do so.

That's a strong statement, but perhaps not the last word. Is there some more recent scholarship? - HWR


That's interesting and should definitely be included on the main page as "one opinion". Is her correspondence with Babbage publicly available? --AxelBoldt


Another comment, found in Computer: A history of the information machine (1996) by Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray:

One should note, however, that the extent of Lovelace's intellectual contribution to the Sketch has been much exaggerated in recent years. She has been pronounced the world's first programmer and even had a programming language (ADA) named in her honor. Scholarship of the last decade has shown that most of the technical content and all of the programs in the Sketch were Babbage's work.

Babbage himself wrote the following, in his Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1846), from an excerpt found in Perspectives on the Computer Revolution (1970), edited by Zenon Pylyshyn:

I 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 algerbraic 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.

On the other hand, I have not yet seen Ada: The Enchantress of Numbers by Betty Alexandra Toole, Ed.D., of which the author writes [1]:

To enable readers to base their own conclusions on the evidence, I have structured Ada, The Enchantress of Numbers: Prophet of the Computer Age to fit the internet age: one-half biography, one-half email of the 19th century. Appendix II contains the latest information about the controversy over whether Ada should be acknowledged as the first programmer and prophet of the computer age.

Is this the proper article title? Shouldn't it be Ada, Lady Lovelace? -- Zoe


Doesn't the quotation from Babbage above contradict the acticle, which implies strongly that her only contribution was to correct a single mistake? Lovelace's contributions may have been greatly exaggerated in recent years, but this article seems to give her correspondingly little credit. I don't have enough experience making edits to do this myself, but somebody should make the account a bit more balanced. Maybe the quote itself should go in the main article. -NRH


"Her husband was William King, later Earl of Lovelace. Her full name and title for most of her married life was Lady Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace. She is widely known in modern times simply as (Lady) Ada Lovelace. She is also referred to in some places as Ada Augusta which seems to be simply wrong."

This paragraph is inaccurate, but I'm not sure what the author wants it to say. Her legal name (used only on formal legal documents) would have been "The Right Honourable Augusta Ada Countess of Lovelace" and the name by which she would have been referred to in the most formal of circumstances (on the envelope of a formal letter, for instance) would have been "The Right Honourable The Countess of Lovelace".

She was never entitled to "Lady" preceding her first names, and "Lady Ada Lovelace" is just completely wrong. "Ada Lovelace", "Ada, Countess of Lovelace" or "Ada, Lady Lovelace" would be more acceptable.

I would just change it, but as I say I'm not sure exactly what information the author wants to put across.Proteus 19:29 GMT, 17th January 2004


Doron Swade, in his book "The Difference Engine" states, "Because of her article 'Sketch of the Analytical Engine', Ada's role in Babbage's work has been both exaggerated and distorted down the years, like a Chinese whisper."

"The notion that she made an inspirational contribution to the development of the Engines is not supported by the known chronology of events. The conception and major work on the Analytical Engine were complete before Ada had any contact with the elementary principles of the Engines. The first algorithms or stepwise operations leading to a solution--what we would now recognise as a 'program', though the word was not used by her or by Babbage--were certainly published under her name. But the work had been completed by Babbage much earlier."

Swade also publishes several letters from Lovelace, in which she gushes about her own genius. They sound a bit mad, to be honest. She mentions that "Owing to some peculiarity in my nervous system, I have perceptions of some things, which no one else has; or at least very few, if any. This faculty may be designated in me as a singular tact, or some might say an intuitive perception of hidden things;--that is of things hidden from ears, eyes, & the ordinary senses..." It goes on for paragraphs about her belief in her utterly unique genius.

Doron Swade also quotes "Bruce Collier, whose historical study of Babbage's work remains unsurpassed, has this to say about the popular myth of Ada's role:"

Collier: "There is one subject ancillary to Babbage on which far too much has been written, and that is the contributions of Ada Lovelace. It would only be 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... To me, this familiar material [Ada's correspondence with Babbage] seems to make obvious once again that Ada was as mad as a hatter, and contributed little more to the 'Notes' than trouble... I will retain an open mind on whether Ada was crazy because of her substance abuse...or despite it. I hope nobody feels compelled to write another book on the subject. But, then, I guess someone has to be the most overrated figure in the history of computing."


It's disturbing. If gender politics IS getting in the way of objective history* being written then I have a horrible feeling I'm watching history being distorted by modern thinking while I watch (as no doubt it very often is).

Here's a sentence in the article that reads oddly:

"Her prose also acknowledged some possibilities of the machine which Babbage.."

Why is it written like this? If I have an idea, do I suggest it or does my prose acknowledge the possibility of such an idea?

This, and the end of the "Charles Babbage" section, give the impression that we're trying awfully hard to raise her status in the history of Science/Maths based on some heavy interpretation and supposition, but not on evidence.

Show the evidence. It's bound not to be conclusive one way or the other, but the interpretation looks dodgy, and the only way we can be objective is to have the evidence up front, and to acknowledge the existence of controversy, and rather hot-headed opinions on both sides.

  • yesyes I know we could have an argument about the phrase "objective history" - can we agree that I mean history that is done purely out of an interest to discover as far as we can, what happened, and not to prove some point? Probably not....13 July 2009 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.11.234.28 (talk) 13:43, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Not sure where I should put this. I fixed a short but important typo "1842"-->1840 as the year of Babbage's Turin lectures. Further, I'm not sure Menabrea's paper should be called a "transcript". I used the somewhat weaker---and traditional---term "scribed" in my blog article https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/ada-the-amplifier/ but even that is unclear.

Relative to scholarly discussion in this section and elsewhere on this page, my article's two main points of argument are: (1) The expectations under which Lovelace gets muted credit from scholars are misplaced. By modern CS academic standards this is clearly original work beyond the advisor. (2) The issue of how much Babbage had done beforehand needs to be viewed through the lens of Stepwise Refinement (e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refinement_%28computing%29), whose need and nature would operate in 1840 no less than in 1950 or 1980 or now. KWRegan (talk) 04:01, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Trivia/Hologram[edit]

Microsoft authenticity holograms[edit]

Could someone please provide a source for this? I have looked online and offline, but have been unable to discover any examples (although someone provides the example of a watermark on the Windows 95 certificate of authenticity on their blog).

I don't want to remove it just yet, because I'm not sure what Wikipedian policy is on the matter of missing sources.

'Ada', not 'Lovelace'[edit]

I've standardised references to her as 'Ada', not 'Lovelace'. It was horribly inconsistent, and I think the first name is more familiar, even though perhaps surname is more standard. Hope this is OK with everyone. Earthlyreason (talk) 04:29, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

In fact I think it should revert to 'Lovelace'. It is my impression that it is standard to refer to professionals and prominent figures by their surnames. Using the familiar address is not only inconsistent with this standard, it also (to me, and potentially to others) has the potential to reduce the standing or perceived authority of the contribution that the subject has made within his/her field. First names imply a personal relation rather than one of professional respect. As Lovelace is a woman in a field with few women, this is particularly problematic. It looks especially awkward in phrases like 'Ada and Babbage' in which he is recorded by the normal, surname-standard, whereas she remains in the intimate personal form. Therefore I have edited it to consistently read 'Lovelace' rather than 'Ada'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.157.176.53 (talk) 11:47, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with this comment of 86.157.176.53. For some unknown reason I messed up my own edit. Xxanthippe (talk) 12:12, 12 May 2008 (UTC).
At least it's consistent. I'm Ok to keep it as 'Lovelace' for the reasons given. It just sounds a bit blunt; perhaps I'm paternalistic (see first comment above.) Earthlyreason (talk) 17:30, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

It's Wikipedia practice to use the last name when possible.--Gloriamarie (talk) 22:48, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Oh. I just commented above that I found use of Lovelace hard to follow and had to reread. Were women of the era referred to by last name only without being disrespectful? Perhaps it doesn't matter if it reads clearly.

Deke 64.45.228.207 (talk) 06:29, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Using "Lovelace" to refer to Ada Augusta Byron-King is like referring to Sarah Margaret Ferguson as "York", or to Marguerite Gardiner as "Blessington". It is mainly weird. 88.235.61.242 (talk) 17:41, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Except that Lovelace is what she went by then and now. Ottava Rima (talk) 20:20, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Besides, peers use the territorial designation of their title as their signature and are referred to by the territorial designation of their title rather than by their names. Surtsicna (talk) 22:39, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
Surtsicna is correct. It was not uncommon for nobility to be referred to simply by their territorial designation, so calling her "Lovelace" is not that strange. Babbage himself referred to her as "Lady Lovelace". Additionally, she is now almost exclusively referred to as "Ada Lovelace" (with "Lovelace" being used as a surname would be) so we need to treat that as her effective name, per WP:UCN. Additionally, referring to her by her first name is strongly discouraged by WP:LASTNAME. Kaldari (talk) 15:27, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Ada Lovelace was not a Peer. She was the wife of a Peer. In the usage of her day her husband would have been referred to informally as 'Lovelace' she as 'Lady Lovelace'. Maybe the best compromise for this article would be 'Ada Lovelace'. Xxanthippe (talk) 22:44, 28 September 2009 (UTC).
All the biographies I've consulted (Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers; Ada, Countess of Lovelace; Byron's Daughter) consistently refer to her as "Ada", so I'm in favor of changing everything to "Ada" as well. I suggest that we add a small section about naming conventions, though, so that we don't have this discussion re-opened if we ever reach consensus. Also, WP:LASTNAME specifically mentions the names of nobility and implies that we should use titles only after they were gained in the person's biographical timeline. In other words, we should call her "Ada" before marriage, or "Ada, Countess of Lovelace" and "the Countess" only after marriage, but not "Lovelace" even though that sounds better to American ears because of the corruption of her name over time. Therefore "Ada" matches the practices of her scholarly biographers and the historical practices of the time while allowing us a consistent way to refer to her throughout the article. Skatedad (talk) 23:24, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

That would not be a compromise, it would be a mistake. Her name was Ada Augusta Byron King, the Countess Lovelace. the usage "Ada Lovelace" betrays American ignorance of English titles. She would have been known as "Lady Lovelace", just as her father was known as "Lord Byron" even after he changed his surname to Noel-Byron. The peerage always takes precedence over the surname. Thus the lady in question would have been addressed as "Lady Lovelace" or perhaps "Countess Lovelace", but NEVER as "Lady Ada", "Lovelace" (only the peer holding the title -- her husband -- would have been so addressed), or "Ada Lovelace". Wikipedia's "policy" should give way to the usage correct to the time and place being referenced. Munchkyn (talk) 23:08, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

Conceptual Leap - Ada Lovelace, Godmother of the DAW?[edit]

In her quote under "Conceptual Leap" she states:

"[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine...
Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

This sounds very close to what modern DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) are capable of doing today. Would it presumptuous to credit her as the Godmother (or Great-Grandmother) of the modern DAW?

Lee Shapiro - 12/9/12

indent using wiki markup instead of spaces, throwing the width of my browser window off.--KTo288 (talk) 10:05, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

Grammar/Misspellings[edit]

Will somebody read this sentence from the summary, and tell me it's not horrendous?

She had no relationship with her father, who separated from her mother just a month after Ada was born, and four months later he left England forever and her farther died in Greece in 1823 when she was eight.

Father is misspelled, and the sentence is run-on.

Edit: Just noticed that this was changed from the request two sections above from before. It's even worse than it was before. This article is all but linked to from the front page of Google. You miiiight want to change it back to how it was; at least then it was a personal preference instead of a glaring error.

No mention of her opium addiction?[edit]

This seems like a significant omission. The fact that she was addicted to opium is well-known. 86.156.79.81 (talk) 16:50, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

If you can find a source then put it in. But it would be nothing remarkable, many people were addicted to opium in those days as it was the only commonly available painkiller, and she was in pain at the end of her life. Xxanthippe (talk) 05:54, 7 April 2015 (UTC).

Lovelace's looks[edit]

One of the findings of bias in Wikipedia articles about women is that they often contain references to women's looks and relationships with men (see "It's a Man's Wikipedia?" http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.06307). In this article, the Adult Life section begins with spurious descriptions of dancing and looks:

She danced often and was able to charm many people, and was described by most people as being dainty. However, John Hobhouse, Lord Byron's friend, was the exception and he described her as "a large, coarse-skinned young woman but with something of my friend's features, particularly the mouth."[24] This description followed their meeting on 24 February 1834 in which Ada made it clear to Hobhouse that she did not like him, probably due to the influence of her mother, which led her to dislike all of her father's friends.

I wonder how any of this information is relevant to her biography. For example, there's no prominent description of Einstein's wild hair (mentioned only because of his appearance in popular culture, at the very bottom of the article) or the fact that he didn't wear socks on his article. There's no mention of Charles Babbage's looks in his article.

Lovelace is not known for her role in society or her looks in any way, thereby making this section irrelevant. I recommend cutting this section entirely to reduce the gender bias of this important article. Skatedad (talk) 04:49, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Welcome to Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles include only material based on reliable sources (RS). Editors' opinions are not acceptable (unless they are thus sourced). If you study the Lovelace article and the biographies about her you will see that Ada's place in the high society of her day, and in particular her gambling, were very relevant to her life. In contrast Babbage took virtually no part in society. If you can find a RS about Einstein's hair and socks, you are welcome to add it to that article. I note that his hairstyle is already mentioned there. Xxanthippe (talk) 05:52, 2 April 2015 (UTC).
Thanks for the reply. I think I did not explain my point well. I don't debate that her life at court is worth mentioning, however common that was at the time. My point is that she, unlike her father, is not known for her looks in one way or another. To include these specific details (and from an older biography focused not on Lovelace, but on her half-sister) seems unnecessary and inherently sexist. Her two main claims to notability, as I read them, are her role in the history of programming and her status as Lord Byron's daughter. Given that these details do nothing to inform us about either, they seem superfluous. Moreover, given the history of gender bias in articles about women, removing a focus on her looks seems, to me, like it would reduce this bias while improving the focus of this article. Skatedad (talk) 23:17, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your comment. I liked your recent edit to the article, [2] which gives perspective to the matter. Xxanthippe (talk) 23:33, 2 April 2015 (UTC).
I would suggest deleting everything in that paragraph after "She danced often and was able to charm many people." The rest of the paragraph is cruft, IMO. That would also create a better segue into the next paragraph. Kaldari (talk) 00:02, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
The material would be best left in, it is well sourced and relevant. Xxanthippe (talk) 00:11, 3 April 2015 (UTC).
I partially agree with Kaldari (obviously). Although the information is well-sourced, it's mostly not relevant, which is the point I've been making repeatedly. The points about social life like being presented to Court and the fact that she was biased against former friends of Lord Byron's all seem fine and interesting, but explicit descriptions of her physical appearance are entirely irrelevant and inherently sexist in this article. Skatedad (talk) 04:02, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
Let's hope there is input from other editors too. Incidentally, in the talk page above there is much debate about how Ada Lovelace should be referred to in the article, and it has been pointed out (by me at least) that calling her "Lovelace" implies that the work was done by her husband, which is totally false and even insulting. You might like to comment on the matter. Xxanthippe (talk) 05:10, 3 April 2015 (UTC).
Let's focus on one thing at a time. Kaldari (talk) 17:55, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
The theme of this thread is the sexist attitudes that appear only too regularly in this article and its talk. This not a matter to be swept under the carpet. Sexism has seeped into the subconscious of people in many parts of the English-speaking world to the extent that they may not even be aware that they themselves are sexist (there is no suggestion of bad faith here). The willingness of several editors (and there are more than one) to refer to Ada Lovelace in the article by her husband's name is an example of this. Ada is now known universally as "Ada Lovelace". This is too clumsy to use everywhere in the article so the choice seems to be either "Ada" or "Lovelace". The first is her own name, the second is her husband's. As I have explained several times before on this page, to use the latter is insulting to her memory, as well as being a technically incorrect use of English styles of titles. Of course, her biographers, who wrote the secondary sources on which Wikipedia relies, use "Ada". Your suggestion that the Hobhouse quote is "cruft" is spurious. Elsewhere in the paragraph Ada is described as "dainty" and "able to charm". There is no reason why allegedly unfavourable material should be excised while allegedly favourable material remains. On the basis of what policy do you propose removing the quote? The way of scholarship is to leave it all in and let the reader decide. Wikipedia is not censored. Xxanthippe (talk) 02:22, 4 April 2015 (UTC).
Both Ada Lovelace and her husband had Lovelace as part of their title and Lovelace is effectively treated as her last name in most sources. We would never refer to William King-Noel, 1st Earl of Lovelace as "William" or Lord Byron as "George". That would be considered demeaning. Regarding the material to delete, I didn't suggest only removing the Hobhouse quote. I suggested removing the entire later half of the paragraph including the part about her being "dainty". What people thought of her appearance isn't relevant to the article. The only reason that material is in the article is because we are socialized to believe that the most important characteristic of a woman is her appearance and that is what she should be judged on. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. We should concentrate on the most notable events in Lovelace's life (which does not include her appraisal by John Hobhouse). Kaldari (talk) 17:42, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Ada Lovelace's name[edit]

As explained on the talk page far above, the usage of British titles means that "Lovelace" refers to her husband solely. Ada was never in her lifetime or after referred to as "Lovelace". That term was used for her husband alone. Of course Ada's last name was taken to be "Lovelace", but she was invariably not referred to by that alone. It would have been as "Ada Lovelace" or "Lady Lovelace". The fact that the computer language named after her is called "Ada" and not "Lovelace" should give you a hint. If you can find authoritative references of the use of "Lovelace" alone to refer to her then please cite them. It is possible that your confusion over this matter is because you are not familiar with the usages of British titles. The suggestion (by more than one editor) that it is natural for a high-achieving woman to be referred to by her husband's name and not by her own name suggests how deeply entrenched are sexist attitudes on Wikipedia. Xxanthippe (talk) 08:19, 5 April 2015 (UTC).

I don't know anything about British titles, but WP:LASTNAME says that everyone should be referred to by their last name, including pseudonymous last names. The issue has already been discussed here previously and it doesn't look like there is consensus to change it. Kaldari (talk) 01:12, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
It's actually pretty easy to find sources that refer to her as "Lovelace":
  • "Byron died in Greece when Lovelace was eight years old" -- A to Z of Mathematicians
  • "Anabella Milbanke told Lovelace that Leigh was her half sister and fathered by Byron." -- Giants of Computing
  • "In a similar way, the Lovelace paper remains the sole witness to the power and scope of Ada Lovelace's special genius." -- Notable Women in Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary
There's even a graphic novel about her called The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.[3] Kaldari (talk) 01:27, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
Due to your unfamiliarly with British titles you may not understand that "Lovelace" is not Ada's surname (The Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies guideline which you quote, explicitly deals with surnames). Ada's surname is "King-Noel" because that is the surname of her husband. The Manual of Style does not give clear guidance on this matter, but it would be ludicrous to refer to her as "King-Noel" in her article. The Manual of Style also says "Be careful not to give someone a title too soon", so it would be inconsistent to refer to Ada as "Lovelace" at times before her husband succeeded to the Earldom only 14 years before Ada's death. The situation is a mess and is not covered by guidelines, a not unusual state of affairs, so WP:IAR. The solution I have advocated is to call her "Ada Lovelace" throughout because, as the article states correctly at its start, that is now how she is commonly known. However, using the two words every time is clumsy so I suggest alternating with "Ada". The consistency of always including "Ada" when referring to her will make it easier for newcomers to follow the article; they might be confused by the variety of styles by which she was known. It is also the usage of Ada's biographers, who are our best guide to the writing of biographical articles. The biographers (Jane Cooper, Wendy Pollard) of two other women writers Mary Louisa Molesworth and Pamela Hansford Johnson (also the wife of a peer), to whose Wikipedia articles I have contributed, refer to their subjects as "Louisa" and "Pam", so any suggestion that it is in some way not appropriate to refer to Ada Lovelace as "Ada" is ill-informed and inconsistent with professional practice. The three examples you give of the use of "Lovelace" are mathematical organs, whose conventions are different. If you wish to garner support from a graphic novel, you are welcome to. Xxanthippe (talk) 04:16, 6 April 2015 (UTC).

After having spent some time debating with an editor who admits that he does not know anything about the central issue, I have been WP:Bold and have made the revisions I proposed. A bit of an anticlimax really. Not much was changed: it should be easier for newcomers to read and some remaining sexisms have been mitigated. Xxanthippe (talk) 06:02, 6 April 2015 (UTC).

I have reverted the change as I believe it needs further discussion. It would be good to get some additional opinions. Kaldari (talk) 18:27, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Let me get this right. Treating men and women equally by applying the same standards to both is sexism? I am astounded by the premise of this thread. Surtsicna (talk) 18:33, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Ada Lovelace seems wrong to me, I was taught that she was Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace. Its unusual to use the hereditary seat on its own without the title, Lovelace is not a surname. To call her Ada Lovelace is rather grating, the best analogy I can come up with to illustrate what a monstrosity this usage is, for Americans who don't understand aristocratic titles, would be to start calling Barack Obama, Barack United States, using part of the name of the office as a substitute for the surname. It would be much better to move this article to Ada Byron and to use Ada Byron throughout.--KTo288 (talk) 14:36, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
Follow the sources. We have sources that refer to her as "Lovelace." Do we have sources that make a point of referring to her as something else? KTo288, have you seen books or articles that call her "Byron"? Are there books or articles that call her "Ada"?
There are some cases, specifically the names of Icelanders, in which Wikipedia makes an exception to the last name rule. However, it sounds like WP:COMMONNAME applies here. To counter "Barack United States," Ibn-Sina is referred to as "Avicenna" and Carolus Magnus as "Charlemagne." If the use of "Lovelace" as if it were Ada Lovelace's surname has become standard, then we should use it too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:58, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
@KTo288. You are technically correct and you seem to show more grasp of the matter than is evident in some of the US-centric contributions to this thread. However, it is an established fact that Ada is most widely known as "Ada Lovelace" so this is probably the most appropriate usage here. I expect you will agree the use of "Lovelace" by itself is unacceptable as it refers to her husband and not herself and is thereby sexist if not insulting. You might like to look at my version here [4] where I try to find a way of treating her name that is correct and consistent.
@Darkfrog2. "Lovelace" is not Ada's surname. Her surname was (when she was married to the Earl of Lovelace) "King-Noel". It is best practice of biographers of prominent women, which I have referred to above, to refer to them by their own name and not by their husband's name. You ask: KTo288, have you seen books or articles that call her "Byron"? Are there books or articles that call her "Ada"?. Here is one [5]. Xxanthippe (talk) 10:51, 16 April 2015 (UTC).
Yes it's been established that it's not her surname and no one here seems to be confused on that point, but Wikipedia has many cases in which a person would called be something not his or her surname nonetheless. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:19, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
We do refer to this woman by her name, the name she adopted upon marriage, which then became hers as much as her husband's. If I were to change my name one day (which is very unlikely), the new name would be my name. Anyway, have we considered referring to her as "Lady Lovelace"? Alternating, perhaps, with "Ada Lovelace" and "the Countess of Lovelace". That would be a way to avoid the entirely inappropriate first name basis and the last name issue. As for Icelanders, we do not refer to them by their surnames because they do not have surnames, so they are not an exception. Surtsicna (talk) 14:45, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Sure Wikipedia and not just Wikipedia will refer to someone not by their name, but it depends on context, when talking about Blenheim, Waterloo or Balaclava, I could refer to Marlborough, Wellington, and Cardigan, and people would understand who I was talking about. However these are not surnames, we would not refer to John Churchill as John Marlborough, Arthur Wellesley as Arthur Wellington etc. . The only comparable case I can think of where a similar use is accepted is Harry Wales, but we don't have Camilla Cornwall, Edward Wessex (though that exists as a redirect), nor William Cambridge.--KTo288 (talk) 23:22, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Or more pertinently we don't have Sophie Wessex or Catherine Cambridge.--KTo288 (talk) 11:00, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Vote with sources: Lovelace/Ada/Byron/King-Noel[edit]

Here's something we can try. We've established what everyone thinks about this and most of us sound pretty set in our preferences, so let's see if we can find the off-Wikipedia consensus. If the preponderance of reliable sources use "Lovelace" upon subsequent mention then we should too. If they use "Ada," we should too. Lining up sources in this way can help us see if there are any patterns in which sources prefer one usage or another, like if there's a casual/professional split or a U.S./British split.

Anyone may add to any of these lists. Anyone may add a new section. I like to put the most trustworthy sources (which in this case would mean professionally edited sources) at the top of the list, so feel free to enter your "New York Times" in between someone else's biography and web article. For example, I'm putting Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage last because it was written for entertainment purposes and I've put the Yale page last because it contains simple writing mistakes and might be mistaken about this too. (Kaldari, if you could add more info or at least confirm that I've placed these sources properly, that would be great). Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:19, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

While I think this is a useful exercise, what we should be comparing is what sources most commonly use as her last name. MOS:BIO specifies that we use the subject's last name when referring to them, but it is somewhat ambiguous what we should consider Ada Lovelace's last name. Kaldari (talk) 18:56, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
I'd say "Byron" or "King," but I haven't seen any sources (yet) that use either. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:23, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Thank you for your ingenious and helpful list, Darkfrog2. To the Ada section you could add all the sources in the main article. As you say, the sources vary in quality. Those that meet the gold standard are the professional biographies. For the benefit of contributors to this thread who admit that they don't know anything about British titles let me explain their usage here. As KTo288 correctly says, Ada's most formal title would have been "Countess of Lovelace", used (with some variations) at official occasions, less formally "The Lady Lovelace"; by social acquaintances "Lady Lovelace" or "Ada Lovelace" and by friends "Ada". What she would have never been referred to as is "Lovelace", as that is an informal usage reserved for the holder of the peerage alone (her husband). This usage holds to this day as may be verified by sources such as Debrett's Correct Form (ISBN:0 7088 1500 6). To refer to Ada as "Lovelace" is an egregious solecism that demeans her achievements. As this is a UK-based article, UK not US conventions are applicable. The inflexible application of an inappropriate WP:Lastname guideline (not even a policy) is not helpful. There have been several other suggestions about how refer to Ada in the article. I don't object to any of them except "Lovelace". However for ease of reading it is best to be simple and uniform and that is what I have tried in this edit [6], which follows the best practice of professional biographers. In it I refer to her as "Ada Lovelace" or as "Ada", as is also done in the current version. If anybody objects to this usage, please could they explain why (with sources)? Xxanthippe (talk) 10:27, 17 April 2015 (UTC).

Thank you for the compliment. This conversation would go better if you would stop saying "people who don't know anything." I agree that we should follow best practices in reliable sources and that, if there is a U.S./U.K. split on this issue, that British rules should be used in this case. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:18, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
If you quote my words, please quote them accurately. I did not write "people who don't know anything". I wrote "For the benefit of contributors to this thread who admit (italics added here) that they don't know anything about British titles..". You can search this thread to see if there are such; let me know if you don't find any. Your general point is valid, though. There are many different cultures in the English-speaking world, and when a member of one of those cultures edits an article that is about a different culture they should take more than usual care not to make edits that could be deemed to be offensive. If some minor source refers to Ada Lovelace in a way that is sexist due to ignorance and lack of cultural sensitivity, that is no reason why Wikipedia should follow. Xxanthippe (talk) 09:41, 18 April 2015 (UTC).
It's insulting. It characterizes people who don't agree with you as ignorant. You should stop saying it because then you're making this about you; people will care more about seeing that you don't get your way than about making the article better. What you see as the "right" way to do it could just as easily be described as the "old" or "former" way to do it. The proof is in the sources. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:17, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
You misquote me again. I did not characterize anybody as "ignorant". The only use of that word on this talk page is by you. I quoted an editor who stated "I don't know anything about British titles". Those were his (exact) words, not mine. It can be a good practice for an editor to declare his state of knowledge of a topic as it allows other editors to weigh his views. If an editor says they don't know anything about a topic, that does not mean that they cannot learn about it subsequently. That is what Wikipedia exists for. Xxanthippe (talk) 10:08, 20 April 2015 (UTC).
Knock it off Xxanthippe. Let's talk about the article, not me. Kaldari (talk) 20:23, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree that this irrelevant sub-thread should be terminated as it does not contribute to improving the article. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:38, 21 April 2015 (UTC).

Sources that use "Lovelace"[edit]

  1. A to Z of Mathematicians (2005)
  2. Giants of Computing (2013)
  3. Mother Jones "Ladies Last" [7] (2013)
  4. "Ada Lovelace, Victorian Computing Visionary," extract from A Passion For Science: Tales of Discovery and Invention [8]
  5. Kirkus book review [9] (refers to a novel, Ada Lovelace as fictional character) (2015)
  6. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (novel) [10] (2015)

Sources that use "Ada"[edit]

  1. Toole, Betty A. Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: A Selection of the Letters of Lord Byron's Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer. Strawberry Press: Mill Valley, CA, 1992. (biography, self-published) [11]
  2. Turney, Catherine. Byron's Daughter: A Biography of Elizabeth Medora Leigh. Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1972.
  3. Moore, Doris Langley. Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Byron's Legitimate Daugher. Harper & Row: New York, 1977.
  4. "Ada Lovelace, Victorian Computing Visionary," extract from A Passion For Science: Tales of Discovery and Invention [12]
  5. MIT Press book review [13] (review of book from late 1980s)
  6. Computerhistory.org [14]
  7. SDSC.edu bio page [15]
  8. Famousscientists.org [16] (confirmed 2015)
  9. Brainpickings.org [17]
  10. MacTudor History of Mathematics Archive [18] (confirmed 2002)
  11. Yale.edu bio page (contains errors) [19]

Which sources to trust and on what[edit]

For any information about her contribution to computing and mathematicians, technical texts by scientists and mathematicians would be the correct sources to trust, but would you trust these to be accurate with regards her strained relationship with her mother. A source written by a psychologist would perhaps be trusted better on aspects of her emotional and mentality than her mathematics. Why are we to trust a technical source to be correct on her name, when this is not their area of expertise.

I wouldn't trust anything Debrett's would have to say on mathematics, but on the names and proper form on how to address a member of the nobility, there is no better source.

If this is down to common name, we do not pander to the common name when it is wrong. For example the common name of Obama Care is wrong, it exists as a redirect to the correct name, the issue of the common name is addressed in the article but is not used in place of it.--KTo288 (talk) 10:51, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

The question here is how to refer to Countess Ada Lovelace upon subsequent mention on Wikipedia, a general-audience publication. The most reliable source for this would be a style guide designed for general-audience publications that covers this issue. The next most reliable sources would be other general-audience publications. Specialist guides sometimes deviate from standard English for reasons specific to their audiences.
As for Debrett's, it doesn't seem to do what we need it to. I don't see any subsequent mention of our subject at all, as "Ada" or "Lovelace" or anything else (but it's been a long day and if I've missed it, please point it out). I guess we could refer to this to confirm that she's also correctly called "Ada, Countess of Lovelace," but that's not in dispute right now. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:22, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
"Countess Ada Lovelace", although not sexist as "Lovelace" is, is also a usage that is technically incorrect and would not be appropriate in the article. Debrett's Correct Form is a generic guide to accepted usage and will not contain anything specifically about Ada or Byron. The problem you are so worried about has been solved long ago by Ada's biographers[20]. They use "Ada", as noted on your list. If you have a proposal of your own for the article, what is it? I have made mine clear [21]. Xxanthippe (talk) 10:08, 20 April 2015 (UTC).
It's degrading and sexist to refer to her by her first name in an academic (encyclopedic) context. You still haven't explained why referring to her as "Lovelace" is actually problematic. Yes, she married into the title, but until recently almost all women adopted their surnames and/or titles from their husbands. The practice of such adoption was sexist, referring to the women using such names/titles is not. For example, no one would suggested that referring to Margaret Thatcher (originally Margaret Roberts) as Thatcher is sexist. Referring to her as Margaret, however, would be. Kaldari (talk) 20:38, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
If you want your assertions to be regarded as more than WP:I DON'T LIKE IT or personal idiosyncrasy you will have to supply sources and precedents to back them up. The reference to Margaret Thatcher is beside the point; she was a peeress in her own right, which Ada was not. By established convention, she is referred to less formally as "Thatcher". Her page uses her title correctly. Ada's page uses hers incorrectly. You are at odds with all the Wikipedia editors who contributed to Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Anne, a handful of Queen Marys and others. Those editors follow the convention of referring to their subjects by their first names. What is good enough for a Queen is good enough for a Countess. Xxanthippe (talk) 07:09, 21 April 2015 (UTC).
A source that says "referring to women by their first names when men would not be is sexist" would also be relevant here. Not every source has to offer examples; some can make statements. I personally prefer "Lovelace," but so far we've got 2:1 in favor of "Ada." Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:27, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
@Xxanthippe and Darkfrog24: "Forms of address indicate attitudes about status and/or worth. Children often go by first names while calling adults by surname and title. Whenever males are referred to by title, use the appropriate title for female professionals, rather than their first names." -- Guidelines for Non-Sexist Use of Language, American Philosophical Association Kaldari (talk) 21:45, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Also: "A member of the nobility may be referred to by title if that form of address would have been the customary way to refer to him or her; for example Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, may become "the Earl of Leicester" or just "Leicester" in subsequent mentions." -- WP:LASTNAME Kaldari (talk) 04:26, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
Calling her "Ada" might be a problem, but Wikipedia shouldn't fix English. It's got to be fixed out there; then Wikipedia can change to reflect the newer (and hopefully less sexist) standards. If the "Ada" sources were all from before 1985 or whenever, then we could discount them as outdated, but most of them are not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:27, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
EDIT: Wait a second, the MIT source is from the eighties too! Are most of the "Ada" sources from before the Internet got big? I thought there might be a British/American split, but a 20th century/current split would be relevant too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:33, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
The preceding edit makes the interesting suggestion that sources before 1985 should be discounted (why 1985?). A Wikipedia policy will be needed for that. It would be better to take the suggestion to a policy page rather than discuss it at the level of an individual article. Xxanthippe (talk) 10:48, 24 April 2015 (UTC).
Not 1985 specifically. Before the internet got big. English writing underwent a lot of big changes when the medium shifted (such as the acceptance of vertical space as a legitimate alternative to indentation as a means of distinguishing paragraphs). If we see that all the pre-internet sources do X and most of the internet-era sources do Y, then we can say, "X used to be the correct way, but Y is the correct way now."
Specifically, if all these biographies and reviews that say "Ada" are from the 1980s and early 1990s, their style might not be current and we do not have to follow their precedent. Like I said, Wikipedia isn't the place to fix or revise English, but if English has already revised itself, we should reflect that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:08, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
We should continue looking for sources to see if this split is real. In my opinion, the most convincing type of source in this case would be 1) a current style guide or 2) an internet-era print biography of Ada Lovelace. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:11, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Agusta ada bryon[edit]

I cannot beleve that her and her father both died at the same age of 36. it is really sad that she did die at such a young of of urinal cancer. but she always will be loved for all she has done to help this world espesially in technollogy it is amazing that did all that amazing stuff when she was in her twenties.

it really is amazing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.210.162.144 (talk) 23:15, 6 May 2015 (UTC)