Talk:Ada Lovelace

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First computer program[edit]

Someone should find a link to her notes. If this is the first computer program it would be very interesting to read.  — [Unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs).] 14:16, 9 March 2010

Here's a link to a copy of the 1843 program which calculates Bernoulli numbers. I have contacted the people at to see if I can get permission to upload this image of the first computer program to Wikipedia. It is historically significant, even though it is a translation from French.
Trying to decipher this table, as a modern programmer, can be difficult, unless you ignore some of the clutter at first, since there's a lot of redundant information.
I think it's important that, eventually, a modern Wikipedia article is written that compares this 150 year old computer program to a modern programming language, in modern terminology, to help a typical computer programmer (with some mathematical experience) understand what is going on in the 1843 'program'.
The first 4 columns ("Number of Operation", "Nature of Operation", "Variables acted upon", "Variables receving results") as well as the 3 data variable columns ("1V1", "1V2", "1V3"), is the actual "computer program".
The first column is akin to a line number (line #1 may actually be 3 lines, because we need to store to 3 variables)
The second column describes the main instruction (modern assembly language equivalents: ADD, MUL, DIV, SUB)
The third column describes which variable pair (register pair) to execute the operation on
The fourth column describe which variable (register) receives the result
Diagram has a set of data variables, working variables, and result variables.
There's a loop, from line number 13 through line 23. The loop is triggered via a condition check.
The three data columns (1V1, 1V2 and 1V3) are variable assignments, each value is akin to modern assembly language 'MOV' instruction where a number exists.
The "Statement of Results" is akin to just program comments of what the row does, since the 'microcoded' operation is already documented in the first 4 columns, with the sole exception for the condition check which appears to be indicated in parantheses in line 7, 12 and 23 of the column of "Statement of Results" of this 150-plus year old computer program.
The values under the "Working Variables" columns is just program comments, too, since it's just documenting the results of what the first 4 columns would be after the instruction is "executed".
I may have a flawed understanding and explains the algorithm much better, but, eventually, it would be important to see an "Idiot's Guide to Interpreting the First Computer Program" type of article, or instead, a Wikipedia article that accomplishes the same thing, using the Fourmilab resources as references.
While there is debate on what constitutes a 'computer program', this is the oldest recorded program-like algorithm designed to be run by machine. It is very, very roughly akin to assembly/machine/microcode language with a series of variables (equivalent of registers), including the equivalent of a LOOP triggered by a condition check (branching), resulting in a turing-complete language. It may deserve its own article, eventually, at least to compare this program to a modern programming language to make it easier to understand by modern programmers, perhaps two pararllel diagrams side-by-side describing the 1843 language and a modern computer's language (perhaps assembly language), perhaps both calculating bernoulli numbers -- with the same line numbering scheme and similar variable names as in the 1843 program.

Why the quotes in First "computer program"? Slartibartfastibast (talk) 21:55, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

fixed Bhny (talk) 22:48, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

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 (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

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 [2]:

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 (talk) 13:43, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Link suggestions[edit]

An automated Wikipedia link suggester has some possible wiki link suggestions for the Ada_Lovelace article, and they have been placed on this page for your convenience.
Tip: Some people find it helpful if these suggestions are shown on this talk page, rather than on another page. To do this, just add {{User:LinkBot/suggestions/Ada_Lovelace}} to this page. — LinkBot 00:35, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Done. -Frazzydee| 13:58, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

May I add that a few of the links are currently broken, such as those linking to pages that describe the controversy. Could this be removed or revised? -- Evanx(tag?) 20:40, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Ambiguous statement.[edit]

The article includes (as the first sentence of the Life section) the following:

Ada was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron and his wife, Annabella Milbanke, a cousin of Lady Caroline Lamb, with whom he had an affair that scandalized Regency London.

I think a strict parsing of the punctuation of this sentence would indicate that he had an affair with his wife, presumably before he married her. But I cannot help wondering if the intention was to say that he had an affair with Caroline Lamb. Either way, I think it needs rephrasing to give the reader more confidence in what is being said. -- Chris j wood 11:39, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

He had an affair with Caroline Lamb, and it is through her that he met Annabella.--Gloriamarie (talk) 22:46, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Another query: the bio starts with the name of Byron's wife being Anne Isabella. Yet later there is reference to Annabella. Are these the same person? [[User:Johnmperry 00:33, 20 August 2007 (UTC)]] 07:48, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, Anne Isabella was nicknamed Annabella. --ubiquity (talk) 21:24, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Am I the only one who finds the Early Years hard to follow? I had to backtrack and reread to be certain the use of Lovelace referred to Ada. I'm no good at editting but maybe some one could polish perhaps?

Deke (talk) 06:23, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Biographers noted?[edit]

"Biographers have noted that Lovelace struggled with mathematics..."

Surely this should either:

  • be "biographers have claimed"
  • or provide mention of the primary sources which they have noted. If biographers have made this claim, they presumably have some reason to, and that should be mentioned in the article.

Comment: The documentation is provided in Dorothy Stein's thorough biography, especially pp.72-84. Surely every contributor to this article has read Stein? All the evidence suggests that Lovelace was very interested in mathematics but had no great gift for it. (talk) 13:25, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

I've fixed the section to specify that the contention is specifically Dorothy Stein's. FWIW, Stein's biography comes across as something of a hatchet job to me. She continually insists that Lovelace had no great skills in mathematics, and to prove this she cites several letters between her and De Morgan. The letters are basically a correspondence course in Calculus (which was still being actively developed at the time). The fact that Lovelace stumbled through some concepts in calculus while she was learning it doesn't seem very surprising to me. Add to this the fact that women at the time were generally not allowed to attend lectures or classes on higher mathematics (or even purchase math textbooks) and you can understand Lovelace's difficulties. If I had to learn 19th century calculus solely through exchanging letters with a mathematician (who was unpaid for his efforts) I would probably stumble occasionally as well. Kaldari (talk) 17:35, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The fact that Lovelace 'stumbled' when learning the most elementary calculus (nothing at all advanced) does support the view that she was not 'gifted' in mathematics. But I think Stein's most damaging point is that when Lovelace translated Menabrea's paper on Babbage's work, she failed to notice and correct a very glaring printing error in an equation: almost as obviously an error (to a mathematician) as 2 + 2 = 5. (talk) 12:06, 22 August 2010 (UTC)


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 Lovelace was bled to death at the age of 37." This sounds odd. Elaboration is needed. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:26, 15 February 2008 (UTC).

What is a reliable source Wikipedia:Reliable sources?[edit]

In the article Ada Lovelace User:Wolfkeeper has, in good faith Wikipedia:Assume good faith, added the following passage:

"Ada apparently was a hard drinker and gambled heavily. At the time of her death she owed £2000. Additionally, she flirted with other men, and numerous scandals were apparently covered up by her husband."

As source for this information User:Wolfkeeper gives ( and and claims, that "as a UK government heritage source", it should be "pretty reliable". However, the site referred to says nothing about the identity or qualifications of its writer or the sources that he or she referred to. Anonymous and unsourced information about historical matters is not suitable for Wikipedia or for any other form of scholarship, not even if it appears on a local government web site.

It may be that the information added by User:Wolfkeeper is, in fact, accurate. If so, it should be able to be verified by an examination of the ample biographical material referred to in the article. I have deleted the passage in the hope of such research being done. Xxanthippe (talk) 04:08, 15 March 2008 (UTC).

It's not anonymous, it's an official website run by the UK government. That's like saying you can't trust anything published by NASA, unless it's signed to a particular individual. No. Reverted.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 05:23, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
And it's not published by local government, it's a national park run by central government.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 05:26, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
The exmoor national park page is basically a tourist information web site. It looks as if it has been put together by a tourist officer, not a historian or biographer of Lovelace. It might be good enough, if it weren't contradicted by another source. The recently added external link is to a BBC program in which three specialists - historians and biographers specialising in the period or subject - discuss Ada Lovelace. They dismissed quite quickly the suggestion that she was 'hard-living'. Listen to the streaming audio and see what you think. As I say, I would be more comfortable with the exmoor reference if it weren't contradicted by this one. --Pstevens (talk) 08:53, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
To be strictly accurate, they in no way disagreed that she drank, and implied that it could have affected her behaviour (as much as her possibly being bipolar would have), and they also said she wasn't as hard living as her father (big deal!) and her husband gambled much more; but that she certainly did gamble. All in all, I'm not seeing anything that disagrees in any major way with the exmore park information. At most, they added the word 'allegedly' in front of the 'hard drinking' in the bbc radio 4 piece.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 03:07, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
"... rather a dull life in comparison to many other figures of her day ..."; "... it is not Ada who is doing most of the gambling ..." (but her husband); "... there's very little about drink ...", but "prescribed" opiates for terminal illness, "probably cancer of the uterus but we don't know for sure - Professor John Fuigi on the Radio 4 programme, about 30-35 minutes in, describing his conclusions from examining three archives of correspondence between Lovelace and her contemporaries. Wolfkeeper, I can see why you want to include this, since it is often quoted, but perhaps we should be saying that she has this reputation (citing the Exmoor website or other reference) but it may not be wholly justified (citing the Radio 4 program or other reference). --Pstevens (talk) 20:17, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
To be honest the program doesn't seem to come down hard either way; I've listened to it twice, and even the Radio 4 program description says she is 'allegedly hard drinking'. But I'm quite happy with it to have both sides in, it's just that the article seemed to imply that she was this saintly woman, but if half the sources on her are anything to go by, she's probably not that saintly. ;-)- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 20:51, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
The issue at stake is not whether Ida Lovelace was a lush. The biographies, written by scholars with access to primary sources, will determine this. The issue at stake is whether a tourist web site can be taken, without further investigation, to be a reliable source of information for Wikipedia about the minutiae of nineteenth century English social history. I commend the other editors for pursuing the research further. Xxanthippe (talk) 00:28, 19 March 2008 (UTC).
I would say that this is probably a fairly reliable source and would be fine for use at this stage of the article. I would expect to find corroboration in other materials though, and would probably favor deleting the passage if none was found. I plan to do some serious work on this article in the next month and will keep this in mind while doing research. --Gimme danger (talk) 05:48, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
I didn't realize that the exmoor site was contradicted by a better source. Gimme danger (talk) 10:12, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
The National Park page is a reliable page on that national park's issues, not on the biography of Lovelace. For extraordinary claims, we need an extraordinary source, i.e. from an actual book on her biography. bogdan (talk) 14:08, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
I can cite a little information on this out of "Ada, A Life and a Legacy" by Dorothy Stein. "The issue of Ada's gambling did not become a matter of vituperation on the part of her mother until much later, and then only because it revealed the extent of Ada's alienation and provided Lady Byron with a weapon against her son-in-law. At the beginning she covertly aided and abetted Ada in her new enthusiasm." (Page 211) Earlier on the page, there is a quote from Ada's writings acknowledging that she is suffering from despair at the "great pecuniary losses I have sustained by betting". The book, as a whole, is very clear that Ada herself was interested in betting, and acquired great debts in the process. (talk) 00:43, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

'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 (talk) 11:47, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with this comment of 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 (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. (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).

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)

Rearrangement of information; revisiting Ada vs Lovelace[edit]

I haven't changed any of the page's content as such, but I have made several rearrangements to the existing content. Before I did this, the article jumped back and forth through her life in a few places, and there was a lot of repetition. This gave the article an unpolished, amateur feel, and it was confusing to read. I think my rearrangements have put things in a more logical order and have hopefully clarified some of the sections I was initially confused by. I'm happy to discuss further if anyone wants.

I've also used the name "Ada" instead of "Lovelace" in some places. I did this initially before reading the discussion above (sorry - I'm new to editing Wikipedia and I didn't realise it would have been best to read the previous discussions first; I won't make that mistake again). I understand the points above about "Ada" appearing to be less respectful than "Lovelace", and about inconsistency with using both names at different places, however I think my name changes make sense, at least to some extent. Happy to hear disagreements. :) Here's my reasons for the name choices I made:

- When I first read the article, I was a little confused by all the different names and by who was related to whom (Lord Byron's affairs don't help with this!) I found it odd that Ada Lovelace was being referred to as "Lovelace" during her childhood when she only took on that name upon marriage. I felt that using "Ada" for her early years makes more sense.

- I started using "Lovelace" after she married, except where it wouldn't be clear whether "Lovelace" referred to Ada or her husband. For example, immediately after the description of her marriage, the article originally talked about "Lovelace" being sick, and about "Lovelace's mother". Nothing in the context made it immediately obvious without any doubt which Lovelace it referred to (e.g., it could have been Ada'a husband's mother that told her about Lord Byron's incest instead of Ada's own mother). I know that if her husband was being discussed, then he would probably always be referred to by a more formal title than "Lovelace", but people who are new to English peerage conventions might not realise this and hence might have trouble working out whether "Lovelace" referred to the husband or wife.

- I used "Lovelace" or "Ada Lovelace" exclusively when talking about her post-marriage work with Charles Babbage. I know this is inconsistent with using "Ada" earlier, but I introduced this section by initially using "Ada Lovelace", so I think the transition from "Ada" to "Lovelace" won't be too startling.

- The External links section has two references that refer to Ada Lovelace merely as "Ada". It seems that this is not an unacceptable naming convention for her in modern literature. Thus I don't believe that calling her "Ada" in the article is disrespectful, especially when it lends clarity to the article.

Lady alys (talk) 12:37, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Ada Augusta Byron married William King, the 8th Baron King. As such, her surname changed from Byron to King. If she had lived in America, she would have been known as Ada King or Mrs. King. When he was created the 1st Earl Lovelace, that title superseded "Baron King" and became her title as well ("the Countess Lovelace"). Since her husband was a peer, he would have been known as Lord Lovelace or merely "Lovelace", just as Ada's father (also a peer) was known as Lord Byron or "Byron". To refer to Ada Augusta Byron King as "Lovelace" is absurd; it was her title, NOT her surname. The wife of an Earl is called a Countess, and is addressed as "Lady Lovelace" not because "Lovelace" is her surname, but because it is her husband's title. She would never have been addressed as "Lady Ada", nor would anyone have called her "Lovelace". The prep-school attitude of Wikipedia, which calls people by their surnames even if those people would never have been called by their surnames in their lifetimes, only adds confusion to the debate. For the sake of clarity, she should be called "Ada". If that's too hard to swallow, call her "Lady Lovelace", just as we call her father "Lord Byron" rather than "George" or "George Byron". But don't, for the love of heraldry, call her "Lovelace" or "Ada Lovelace". Neither usage is correct.Munchkyn (talk) 22:58, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

How do we know that bloodletting was a contributory cause of Lovelace's death?[edit]

It says in the article that, "Lovelace died at the age of thirty-six, on 27 November 1852,[22] from uterine cancer and bloodletting by her physicians." Surely we cannot know that. Even if we have doubts about the process, and are sure that it cannot be good practice, we cannot know that it was a contributory cause of her death. There seems to be a number of bold statements in the article where the sentences might more thoughtfully have been qualified to allow for the lack of certainty. Just my view. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:41, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I endorse this view. Xxanthippe (talk) 23:24, 23 January 2010 (UTC).

Should Ada Lovelace Day be included under the "Influences" area?[edit]

Hi, everyone. I wanted to bring up the question of whether Ada Lovelace Day should be added under the "Influences" section. My assumption is that cultural events having been influenced by the life of Lady Lovelace - and indeed named after her and continued in her spirit - should be included in this area. Ada Lovelace Day is a relatively new event, but one which has already garnered international participation and press. I had added something about it last year, but it was removed by an editor for not being influential enough. I can provide a bunch of sources from major media outlets that reported about the scope and success of the first iteration of the event if necessary (as well as plans for the second go for this year) that hopefully should provide some proof of the event's broad reach around the world. If that's not sufficient, I'm curious what criteria would be necessary for Ada Lovelace Day to ever be considered appropriately influential to include here...a certain number of participants? A certain number of media mentions? Anyway, thanks in advance for your input/thoughts/help! Girona7 (talk) 06:52, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

I think it warrants a mention - as Girona7 says, over a thousand people participated last year, and it got a lot of mentions in the technical press and at least some national papers e.g. [3]. Hannah dee (talk) 11:34, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Edit dispute over lede[edit]

user Cúchullain has altered the lede in a way that I think does not improve on the established version. The established lede states succinctly who she was and what she did. That suffices. What do other users think? Xxanthippe (talk) 23:24, 23 January 2010 (UTC).

From WP:LEDE, "The article should begin with a declarative sentence, answering two questions for the nonspecialist reader: "What (or who) is the subject?" and "Why is this subject notable?" Just saying she was the daughter of Byron hardly answers either question. Even the old version of the lead indicated that she is "mainly known" for her work on the analytical engine; as such it needs to go first. The rest should summarize the contents of the article, which I've tried to do with my most recent addition. If you can think of a way to improve the wording, please do, but these concerns need to be addressed.--Cúchullain t/c 17:06, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
As Cúchullain, I would prefer mentioning first her work for the analytical engine, because that's what she became famous for. I would however drop the second section of the lede (except perhaps its first sentence) and merge its contents with the following sections below the table of contents. --Cyfal (talk) 12:56, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Thank you Cyfal. On the rest of the lede, all articles need to have a lead that summarizes the article's contents. This may not be the best way to do it, but some summary of the important points needs to be there.--Cúchullain t/c 15:33, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Link to Reference Web Site[edit]

Question about this revert. The suggestion was that this is a link to a blog, but it's not. It's a link to the official web site for a book that was already listed under the References. I notice there are links to similar kinds of web sites under External Links. Any objections if I re-revert? Thanks! --Eekim (talk) 15:11, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Which Name First?[edit]

The article refers both to "Ada Augusta" and also to "Augusta Ada." Which is correct? (Once we know that, the article can be edited for consistency.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bbrownspsu (talkcontribs) 17:35, 20 September 2010 (UTC)


Could we please get a description of the algorithm that Ada wrote down? What problem does it solve, how does it work, and is it still in use today?

I'm curious ... has anyone translated her algorithm into source code and run it on a modern computer? --Uncle Ed (talk) 20:58, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

See the section [#First computer program]] at the top of this page for a link to the Bernoulli program. More are given at [4]. Dmcq (talk) 12:15, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

possible source[edit]

01:10, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Analytical Engine was never built in 1991 as stated; it was The Difference Engine No. 2[edit]

I came to this article after reading a current NY Times article ( and noticed the above discepancy, coflicting with statements in the first paragraph here. According to this article, the AE has not been built. (talk) 12:14, 11 November 2011 (UTC)David B. 11/11/2021. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:06, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

File:Ada lovelace.gif Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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The picture was placed on the Ada Lovelace page by an IP spa. if the photo is indeed of Ada, and can be sourced reliably (the source given by the spa (an obscure feminist blog) needs to be improved on and the age at which it was taken included) then I hope it will be kept. It is a far more plausible image of her than the previous one, which portrayed her as a tarted-up society flibbertigibbet. Xxanthippe (talk) 02:23, 13 December 2011 (UTC).

Effect on programming[edit]

It says as much above but maybe should be included in the article. Because she was rediscovered after actual programs for actual computers started being written, she had about as much impact on programming as Gregor Mendel had on genetics. None. Mendel, too, was rediscovered after someone else has stumbled on genes. Student7 (talk) 17:37, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Removing statement from "Controversy" due to misunderstanding of source[edit]

I'm removing the statement that Dorothy Stein "contends that the programs were mostly written by Babbage himself" because I read the original source and the author has misunderstood the source. Stein's actual statement is that all the examples of writing instructions for the machine in the Notes other than the Bernoulli number program were written by Babbage originally. There is no disagreement about Babbage's authorship of these examples, but they are not the "first computer program" or programs at all because of their simplicity. The Bernoulli number example is the "first computer program" and Stein documents Lovelace's extensive work on this example on pages 106 - 108. If another editor wants to add this claim back, please give a specific quote and a page number (the original cite included 19 pages, 92-110, most of which were not relevant). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Catavar (talkcontribs) 21:18, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

This article was edited as part of an edit-a-thon[edit]

We Can Do It!.jpg
This article was edited as part of the San Francisco WikiWomen's Edit-a-thon. The editor who attended the event may be a new editor. In an effort to support new editor's & a healthy environment, please assume good faith to their contributions before making changes. Thank you! Sarah (talk) 21:52, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Editors of Wikipedia are expected to edit competently in accordance with precedent. Those who are not able to may have their edits reverted. No dispensation is made for special interest groups. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:33, 31 July 2012 (UTC).
Is this a declaration that you will bite newbies? Sminthopsis84 (talk) 12:36, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
What newbies are you referring to? The editor who I reverted has an edit history going back to 2008? Xxanthippe (talk) 00:23, 8 August 2012 (UTC).
yes that is his mission Bhny (talk) 13:08, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, the editor makes no statement about gender on their user page, and I don't think that we should assume that over-active fangs⇒masculine gender. Nice male humans might be rare, but they do exist. :) Sminthopsis84 (talk) 15:44, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Facts and name[edit]

There was really no need to revert my entire edit. As I explained in the edit summary, I corrected several mistakes in the article unrelated to the name issue. For example, Ada was not born as the daughter of Baroness Wentworth. She was born to the Baroness Byron, who would become Baroness Wentworth many decades later. Her mother was not the "sole remaining representative of the Wentworth Viscounts", firstly because she was not a viscount and secondly because there was at least one other - Ada herself.

Now, about the name. It is factually incorrect to call her Lovelace when referring to events that took place before she became Countess of Lovelace. It is impossible to speak of "Lovelace" as a child. That's not only common sense, but also a Wiki guideline. Now, there's also the issue of whether "Lovelace" alone is appropriate, and it is a genuine problem for many people that can be easily solved by calling her "Lady Lovelace" and "Countess of Lovelace", at least in instances when it's not clear that the sentence does not refer to her husband (as peerage territorial designation normally do refer to the holde of the peerage and not the holder's spouse). It also flows better than just "Lovelace" because it is much less repetitious. Surtsicna (talk) 23:14, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for bringing the issue of the naming of Ada Lovelace to this talk page. There has been much discussion of the issue in the page above and it is appropriate to discuss it here before jumping in with major changes to a long established article.
Like many women of her class and time Ada experienced several modes of address during her life. Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies states "A woman should be referred to by her most commonly used name, which will not necessarily include her husband's surname." In this case she is clearly known best as "Ada Lovelace" and this is the mode I would like to see used in the article. I would also think that "Ada" would be appropriate usage in many parts of the article particularly towards the middle and latter parts, but one editor thinks this is undignified (I don't see this myself). I do not support your scheme of referring to Ada by the style that held at various different times of her life, this just confuses the reader.
I suggest you leave the name issue until consensus is obtained on this page, and concentrate your edits one at a time on the "mistakes" that you claim exist in the article, giving an explanation of each of them, although I am not sure that all of them are mistakes. Xxanthippe (talk) 06:18, 31 July 2012 (UTC).
If they are not mistakes, feel free to explain how. It is a fact that she was not born to the Baroness Wentworth and that her mother was not the only representative of her line, for example. Anyway, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies#Subsequent use clearly states: "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. Be careful not to give someone a title too soon; for example, one should use "Robert Dudley" or "Dudley" when describing events prior to his elevation to the peerage in 1564." It simply makes no sense to call her Lovelace when dealing with events that took place when she was a baby, decades before she actually became Countess of Lovelace. It is not my scheme - it is what's usually done. It's like referring to Elizabeth II as "the Queen" while describing her childhood. See, for example, the article about Laura Bush, who is called Welch in the first section and subsequently Bush. Surtsicna (talk) 10:24, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I also think it would be more appropriate to avoid using her first name, especially in the middle and latter parts because those parts concern a mature person who we can correctly call Lovelace. Then again, in the sections dealing with her early life, it is better to call her Ada than Lovelace simply because she was not Lovelace back then. I also think that calling her "Lovelace", "Lady Lovelace", "the Countess of Lovelace" and "the Countess" can only improve the prose by enriching it; I doubt it could confuse anyone, since it is properly explained that she was Countess of Lovelace in the very first sentence of the article and later in the section dealing with her marriage. For example, the article Queen Victoria alternates between "Victoria" and "the Queen", which is undoubtly better than using "Victoria" in every instance. Surtsicna (talk) 15:27, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
An authoritative source on the formal and informal usage of British titles is Debrett's Correct Form (Futura 1976) ISBN 0 7088 1500 6. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:28, 2 August 2012 (UTC).
I know. Since you don't seem to be opposed to my suggestions anymore, I'll try to fix more mistakes and enrich the prose a little bit. Surtsicna (talk) 08:43, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that "enriching the prose" is appropriate in an encyclopaedia. Maximizing accessibility is surely the aim here. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:53, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
Shouldn't the prose be engaging? Is it really confusing to call her "Lovelace", "Lady Lovelace" and "the Countess of Lovelace"? It seems quite clear that she was Countess of Lovelace. Isn't it better than using plain "Lovelace" in every instance? If it is, I don't mind that. Surtsicna (talk) 15:57, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
This isn't my area of expertise, but I think that there are novels where the reader is expected to know that characters with slightly different titles are different people, so here they might wonder if "Lady Lovelace" and "the Countess of Lovelace" are different people. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 16:43, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

My revision of 5 August of the article is intended to make it read as simply as possible for the new reader. I follow the convention adopted by all of Ada's biographers in referring to her by the same name throughout (usually Ada). This removes the difficulty mentioned above of wondering if the "Countess" and "Lady Lovelace" are the same person and who, for example, "her niece" is; a little mental calculation is needed to work out that it is in fact Ada. The new reader should not be expected to have to make this calculation himself. In one paragraph of the 4 August version of Surtsicna the same person (Ada) is referred to as "Ada Lovelace", "the Countess" and "Lovelace". This is clumsy and sows unneeded confusion.

There is, though, one usage that is indisputably incorrect. That is to refer to Ada Lovelace as "Lovelace". This abbreviated form is the informal way of referring the holder of the peerage, it is never, neither then nor now, used for the wife of the peer. Therefore, to attribute the mathematical work to "Lovelace" is not only to commit a solecism but, by implying that the work was done by her husband (which no scholar has ever contended is the case), reads as an insult to Ada's memory.

I have put back my own edits that deal with these styling issues, in addition correcting some errors that I missed on the first round. My last edit was reverted after four hours. I hope this one lasts the 24 hour cycle. Xxanthippe (talk) 07:15, 5 August 2012 (UTC).


In this section is the sentence "The acrimonious divorce, with allegations of immoral behaviour against Byron [10] that Annabella would continue to make throughout her life." which appears to have lost some meaning during editing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:01, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Also, the sentence, "Annabella did not have a close relationship with the young Ada and the child often left her in the care of her grandmother Judith Milbanke, who doted on her." which appears to have become garbled. The child left her mother in the charge of her grandmother? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:05, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Why don't you tidy this up yourself (making sure that content is consistent with the sources)? Xxanthippe (talk) 00:33, 17 August 2012 (UTC).

Photograph of Ada Lovelace[edit]

There is a supposed photograph of Ada Lovelace floating around the internet. See, for example here and here. There are two problems with this photograph:

  1. I have not been able to locate any provenance for it. Does anyone know where it came from?
  2. Portrait photography didn't start until the 1840s and was quite rare until the 1850s. Lovelace died in 1852.

Anyone have further information or opinions on the legitimacy of this photograph? Kaldari (talk) 19:16, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

This isn't a citable source, of course, but Sydney Padua has done the most research on original sources for Lovelace's life that I'm aware of and says there is no photo of Lovelace: My money is on it being of someone else so I wouldn't spend too much time looking for a source. Thanks for checking it out, though - it would be really cool if we did have a photo of her! Catavar (talk) 03:33, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
According to Padua, that photo is actually of Lovelace's daughter, Lady Anne Blunt. Kaldari (talk) 23:26, 28 October 2012 (UTC)