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In this video, we’re going to take a look at computer programming languages and some of the history that’s behind them. First off, what exactly is a language. Something that we don’t really think about very often though. A language really is just a set of symbols, whether it be gestures, words, sign language, or even Braille, that are used in a uniform fashion to allow people to communicate with one another. We have to take a look at how we as humans can communicate with a physical or inanimate object: a computer. In order for us to tell computers what to do, we had to develop a language that we could use to communicate with it. Here on my slide I have on the left a bunch of different ways on how to say good morning, in various human languages that we use to communicate with with one another. And on the right side here we have a bunch of computer languages that we have. So the first one up here is happens to be Python 2, Python 3, C, Java, JavaScript, and even Rust. And so this is just a small number of different things that we would be able to use to communicate this particular message to our computer. Just likewise, we have a lot of different ways we could say good morning to someone.

Let’s take a look though on where the idea of a computer language actually started to originate from. Ada Lovelace is our first influential woman in computer science that we’ll talk about. She is regarded as one of the first figures in history to truly understand computer programming, possibly only second to Charles Babbage. Ada Lovelace was the daughter of a famous English poet. Lord Byron, who I’m sure you’ve heard about before, but she had very little contact with her dad pretty much at all, and during her childhood, she was pretty much on her own. But during that period due to her father status, she was tutored by some of the greatest mathematicians of that time, including Augustus de Morgan, remember from the Boolean logic lecture, had the De Morgan’s theorem. And so she was already being tutored by some of these great mathematicians who were laying the groundwork and the foundations for what we use in computer science. One of the… one of the greatest quotes from from Charles Babbage, who he was talking about Ada Lovelace with. So, Charles Babbage said that Ada Lovelace was that “Enchantress who was thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of sciences and has grasped it with a force few masculine intellects could ever have exerted over it.” So this is a really big compliment from Charles Babbage, who was pretty much the pioneer in computer science at the time.

Ada Lovelace spent a lot of time visiting Charles Babbage and she was so intrigued by his Difference Engine that he had in his house, the prototype that he had made. But her goal in visiting with Charles Babbage so much is that she started to translate his work into English so she could bring it back to England, and explain how it worked and why it was so important and revolutionary. And to assist with that she included a set of notes with her own descriptions of the design of his Difference and Analytical Engines and how they actually worked and when completed her notes are actually longer than Charles Babbage’s memoir. She has so she had a very deep understanding on how Charles Babbage’s machines actually work.

What makes Ada Lovelace so unique in the history of computing is Section G here in her notes. in that section she describes in complete and utter detail how you would use Babbage’s analytical engine to calculate a sequence of numbers called the Bernoulli numbers. You’re probably also familiar with. But while it appears to be written in English, it’s actually designed in a way that can be directly used by the Analytical Engine. So, in a way, you could say that it is in a language that the analytical engine would understand. And in doing so, she wrote the first computer program, which is simply, right, a series of steps specifically designed in such a way that could be easily ran on a computer.

There is some debate as to whether or not she wrote some of the programs she was previously attributed to. But there’s little doubt in the fact that she would be capable of doing so. In fact, she was one of the few people who saw the true potential of what Babbage had actually created. And she’d once remarked that under the correct circumstances, it could be used to create music. So the Analytical Engine she was talking about here. And that’s really quite extraordinary, something that Babbage probably hadn’t thought of at the time. But if you are a musicphile at all, music, right is just simple mathematics. And so if you have a machine that can compute mathematical values, why wouldn’t it be used to create music? So all told, Ada Lovelace is really truly a very important person in the history of computing science. And she’s widely regarded as the world’s first true computer programmer. And as a as another bonus side note here, she’s actually credited with discovering the first bug in a computer program as well. A bug. In fact that was found in a program that was written by Charles Babbage.