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Happy Women's Day (especially to women who analyze data and write programs!)

Publication Date: 


On this 8th of March 2020, all EMbeDS members wholehartedly celebrate women -- especially those who analyze data and write programs!

A special celebration came from Daniele Licari and Andrea Vandin. Today they dedicated part of their lecture in the "Introduction to Programming and Data Processing" course to two special women who forged computer science: 

  1. Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852, UK: Mathematician, known as the first software developer in history
  2. Grace Hopper, 1906-1992, USA: Pioneer of computer programming who invented the first compiler (to transform programs from almost-human language to machine language) and the first high-level programming language in 1956, Flow-Matic.

The first computer programmer

Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace (United Kingdom, 1815-1852) or simply Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer.

Ada was the first to realize the real potential of computers. She worked on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, designing the 'software' needed to solve mathematical problems. She published the first complex computer algorithm in 1843. (The algorithm, detailed in Note G of Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage by Luigi Menabrea with notes by Ada Lovelace described how the Analytical Engine could calculate the Bernoulli numbers using a recursive algorithm)

In her notes, Ada Lovelace emphasized the difference between the Analytical Engine and previous calculating machines, particularly its ability to be programmed to solve problems of any complexity (even create music).

She anticipated the implications of modern computing one hundred years before they were realized.

The first high-level programming language

Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist, a United States Navy rear admiral, and a PhD in mathematics from Yale University. Grace is one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer.

She was a pioneer of computer programming who invented the first compiler in 1952, which translated mathematical code into machine-readable code.

In 1956, she created the first user-friendly programming language FLOW-MATIC. It used regular English words and was designed for data processing purposes. 

Hopper’s project of creating word-based languages helped expand the community of computer users. She  made computers accessible to people without an engineering or math background.

She can be considered the grandmother of current high-level programming languages (Python, R, Java, etc.).