Colloquium: “Alan and Ada’s Theoretical Machines”

Marshall University Math Colloquium
March 10, 2014

Dr. Jeffry Hirst
Appalachian State University

Ada Lovelace is often called “the first computer programmer,” though she died a century before the first general purpose computers were built. This claim is based on the notes she appended to her translation of Menabrea’s 1842 paper, Notions sur la Machine Analytique de M. Charles Babbage. Alan Turing is often called “the father of theoretical computer science” on the basis of his 1936 article On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem. Lovelace’s notes describe Babbage’s Difference Engine and Babbage’s Analytical Engine, and Turing’s paper proves the existence of a Universal Turing Machine. This talk will compare the designs and capabilities of these early theoretical computing machines.