Babbage Charles Essay Research Paper CHARLES BABBAGEHassan

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Babbage, Charles Essay, Research Paper CHARLES BABBAGE Hassan Kidwai Mr. Johnson APCS 8.30.00 Charles Babbage was born at Walworth, Surrey England in December 26,1791. He achieved many great feats and belonged to many very distinguished groups before he died in October 18, 1871. Many people consider him to be the grandfather of computer science due to his great works with his Difference Engine (1821), which printed tables of polynomials, and his Analytical Engine (1856), which was intended as a general symbol manipulator. Babbage grew up with a fascination with the way mechanical objects worked and was an excellent mathematician. This was discovered at an early age when he employed a tutor only to find out he knew more about math than the tutor did. He was home schooled for

most of his early education mainly on account of his invalid health. Babbage eventually enrolled in Cambridge University in 1810, an institution where he would later hold the position of Lucasian chair of mathematics from 1828 to 1839. He was involved in many different fields of science. He was the first person to be presented the Gold Medal award given by the Astronomical Society, and a key figure in the founding of the Astronomical Society in 1820, the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1831, and the Statistical Society of London in 1834. He authored the very influential book On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, as well as a series of papers on varied topics such as optics and cryptology. Charles Babbage had a fascination with numbers and statistics.

He was obsessed with quantifying everything observable in nature. Babbage delighted in the thought of having a daily account of food consumed by zoo animals, or the “proportion of sexes amongst our poultry”. He proposed tables to calculate the amount of wood (elm or oak) a man would saw in 10 hours, or how much an ox or camel could plow or mow in a day. In Mechanics Magazine in 1857 Babbage published a “Table of the Relative Frequency of the Causes of Breaking of Plate Glass Windows” detailing 464 breakages, of which “drunken men, women, or boys” were responsible for 14. Babbage thought the table would be “of value in many respects”, and might “induce others to furnish more extensive collections of similar and related facts”. In Babbage’s early years he was

a popular and well-liked socialite. In fact, he was known for extravagant dinner parties where many famous and prominent people would be in attendance. Over the years, however, for reasons not clearly understood, Babbage turned inward and socialized less and less, and took on a reserved and bitter disposition. Some credit this to three nearly-simultaneous tragedies in his personal life, including the death of his daughter Shelley, who drowned near La Spezia in July of 1822 , his wife Georgiana’s death five years later in August 1827, and his inability to receive a royal grant for his research on the analytical engine, whose completion was Babbage’s ultimate goal in life. Babbage had many dreams. One was a dream about a machine that would perform calculations. He called it the

Differential Engine. This is a dream he would never see accomplished but would burn in him with such passion that it would keep him devoted to achieving it for the rest of his life. He had many detailed drawings and even achieved the feat of a small prototype. His perfectionism always left him thinking of a better way to build the device, though, and this left him unable to complete a project before starting work on another idea. Said Joel Shurkin of Babbage: “One of Babbage’s most serious flaws was his inability to stop tinkering. No sooner would he send a drawing to the machine shop than he would find a better way to perform the task and would order work stopped until he had finished pursuing the new line. By and large this flaw kept Babbage from ever finishing anything.”