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Ada: the Enchantress of Numbers [Paperback]

Betty A Toole
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 9.87
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Ada: the Enchantress of Numbers + The Cogwheel Brain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Strawberry Press (17 Mar 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0912647183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0912647180
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Compiled from her personal letters, and anointed by the author, this book allows Ada to tell the reader about her life herself. It's fascinating to read about the life of this visionary woman, but if your interested in her work with Babbage and his Analytical Engine, a more specialist book may be appropriate (such as The Cogwheel Brain). You will however learn about her relationship with Babbage, the inventor of the never completed 'mechanical computer', and what they had to go through together to tell the world about his fascinating invention. A absorbing book, but not for the computer nerd!
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but missing illustrations. 31 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have reviewed most of the books that are readily available on Ada. This book was well written and Dr. Toole is truly the recognized authority of Ada and her life. I found an earlier edition of this book through interlibrary loan and was disappointed that this edition did not offer the same illustrations and pictures. If you are interested in finding out more about Ada especially from her own letters, this is truly one of the best books out there. I would recommend reading at least one other book on Ada Lovlace in addition to this one, for balance, at times Dr. Toole may have been too kind to Ada's memory.
Ada is a great role model for girls, her life had much turmoil and many obstacles. She fought for her right to do math (and early computer science) in a male society. This book may be a little too steep for early high school reading, a really fabulous young adult book on this subject is Ada Byron Lovelace : The Lady and the Computer (People in Focus Book) by Mary Dodson Wade.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The History of a Passionate Visionary 26 Oct 1998
By Elizabeth Grainger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Toole's book is an excellent introduction to the life and work of the mathematical visionary, Ada Byron King. Toole's treatment allows the reader access to King's luminous mind--no small achievement.
Although it may not be appreciated by those who clearly clearly wish to argue with issues external to the text, I highly reccomend "Ada" to anyone who enjoys work which is sensitive, illuminating, and well-written.
There will probably be a richly-deserved resurgance of interest in King's life and work after the wide release of Lynn Hershman Leeson's film "Conceiving Ada," and Toole's book will be a fine resource for all who are inspired or intrigued by this singular figure.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 7 Mar 2011
By Irlfan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most people think computers are a 20th century invention, and that computer programming is the purview of men. This book will dispell both of those myths. Ada, Lady Lovelace,wrote the first computer programs and when you add the fact that she was a very proper Victorian lady, the daughter of Lord Byron,and friend to Charles Dickens the story becomes even better.
21 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much idolatry 31 May 1998
By felix@crowfix.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is not about Ada but rather the author's defense of Ada's image and place in history.
There are gratuitous associations of Ada Lovelace to truly famous geniuses and science. For instance, this part of a letter (page 124) --
It cannot help striking me that *this* extension of Algebra ought to lead to a *further extension* similar in nature, to the *Geometry of Three Dimensions*; & that again perhaps to a further extension in some unknown region & so ad-infinitum possibly...
-- leads to this comparison (page 122) --
In the next series of letters Ada hyposthesized a geometry of the "fourth dimension." Several popular books today deal with this subject: Rudy Rucker's The Fourth Dimension, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, and Philip Davis's Descartes' Dream.
I don't see any reference in Ada's letter to time. I expect it is simple 4 dimensional geometry she is thinking of.
There is some incredible gushing over the programming language ADA. This book was written in 1992, when it surely should have been obvious that ADA was not the be-all and end-all. Yet the author has apprently fallen hook, line, and sinker for the party line over the programming language named after her hero. Here are some examples. Note these are the author's words, not Ada Lovelace's.
Pages 176-177: It is accordingly most fitting that the programming language ADA, developed in the early 1980s by the US Department of Defense, provides the most precise facilities for this software development (specification) task of any general-purpose software language for large-scale problems existing today.
Add this idolatry to the author's infatuation with Ada Lovelace, and the reuslt is some far-fetched comparisons between Ada Lovelace's documentation and later computer concepts.
Page 179: Here again, the ADA software language contains somewhat unique facilities corresponding in a sense to Ada's insight... A second unuusual ADA facility, exception handling, reflects in a ! different but related way Ada's vision of the Analytical Engines's superiority over the DIfference Engine...In a sense the ADA language exception handler operates at a level of control above the program itself, confirming Ada's foresight.
Page 185: One can read into the following quotations the germ of perhaps the most important advance in software development in the past twenty years, an idea variously referred to (in its many forms) as *sbatraction*, *modularity*, *separation of concerns*, *information hiding*, or *object-oriented design*.
Pages 187-188: In the first excerpt from Note D, Ada commended the use of indices, a now-basic technique for reducing complexity in the processing of regular data structures.
Page 190: ...Then she expanded the visual image she had of weaving and symmetry to highlight the *cycle*, a conceptual building block of programs for both the Analytical Engine and later the computer.
This exaggeration is also extended to Babbage's Analytical Engine.
Page 173: Babbage planned to store over 1000 fifty-digit numbers.
Page 181: It was not until the mid-1960s that the modern computer could store as many digit numbers as did the Analytical Engine.
Quite wrong; I worked on computers from the 1950s that had more storage capacity.
Pages 186-187 compare Babbage finding a new use for the Jacquard loom punched card to software reuse: Some predict that the 1990s will be the decade in which software reuse becomes the principal software development mechanism, and that the ADA software language, which simplifies software reuse because of its precise interface specification and generic subprogram facilities, will lead the way.
Page 189 compares multiple Analytical Engines operating together to current parallel supercomputers, with further comments on ADA supporting this.
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate 14 April 2014
By David Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Easy to read. Read almost like a novel but I used it for research. I recommend this to any interested in Ada Loveless.
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