Last Updated 15 Jun 2020

Charles Babbage

Category Mathematics
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Charles Babbage (1791-1871) To begin with, Charles Babbage, an original innovative thinker and a pioneer of computing from Great Britain, was born on the 26th of December of 1791 in Walworth, Surrey and he died at his home in London on October 18, 1871. He was an incredible mathematician and it is mentioned that he was indisposed as a child so he mainly been educated at home. Babbage made contributions that may assured his fame irrespective of the Difference and Analytical Engines. After his wife’s death he was never again married. not necessary to put) He went at Trinity College, Cambridge in October of 1810. He was very disappointed about the poor variety of the math programs available there so he and some other friends decided to form the Analytical Society. In 1812 he transferred to Peterhouse, Cambridge but he failed to graduate with honours. He received a degree later without even being examined in 1814. After graduation Babbage was hired by the Royal Institution in order to lecture on calculus. There, in 1816 he was elected as a member of the Royal Society and found the Astronomical Society.

In the meantime (1817) he received MA from Cambridge. Since 1828 and some years after, until 1839 he was named the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Charles Babbage also has the nickname "Father of Computing" due to his detailed plans for mechanical Calculating Engines, both the table-making Difference Engines (1821) and the far more ambitious Analytical Engines (1837), which were flexible and powerful, punched-card controlled general purpose calculators, containing many features which later reappeared in the modern computer.

Because of the high error rate in the calculation of mathematical tables, Charles Babbage wanted to find a solution with which the mechanical calculations could be done with less or without errors. He was influenced by three different factors such as a dislike of untidiness; his experience working on logarithmic tables; and existing work on calculating machines carried out by Wilhelm Schickard, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Leibniz. During 1820, Babbage started the development of his first Difference Engine. It was a mechanical device that could perform simple mathematical calculations.

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Although he began promising, was unable to complete it due to huge expenses needed. After that, in the 1830s Babbage began developing his Analytical Engine, which was designed to cope with much complicated calculations, but it was never built. (put what you think in diff. words.. ) Unfortunately because of critical tolerances required by his machines exceeded the level of technology available at the time and, though Babbage’s work was formally recognized by respected scientific institutions, the British government suspended funding for his Difference Engine in 1832.

In 1833 Ada Augusta Lovelace met Charles Babbage and was fascinated with both him and his Engines. Later she became a competent student of mathematics, which was unusual for a woman at that time. Under Babbage's careful supervision Ada added extensive notes which constitute the best contemporary description of the Engines, and the best account we have of Babbage's views on the general powers of the Engines. It is often suggested that Ada was the world's first programmer.

There remain only fragments of Babbage's prototype Difference Engine, and though he devoted most of his time and large fortune towards construction of his Analytical Engine after 1856, he never succeeded in completing any of his several designs for it. George Scheutz, a Swedish printer, successfully constructed a machine based on the designs for Babbage's Difference Engine in 1854. This machine printed mathematical, astronomical and actuarial tables with extraordinary accuracy.

Babbage's work was continued by his son, Henry Prevost Babbage, after his death in 1871, but the Analytical Engine was never successfully completed, and ran only a few "programs" with disappointing results. Summing up, Babbage extent his achievements by writing about the assurance of life as well as breaking mathematical codes. His calculus engine was stayed in history for many years and until today left their mark in our world. It is remarkable that was create a foundation, with the name of Charles Babbage, in order to honor him and to recognize his work and how is connected to the modern computers.

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