Category Archives: News

Ada Lovelace on the BBC

Those of you with an interest in Ada Lovelace will want to tune into a number of upcoming programmes on BBC Four and Radio 4 – mark your calendars!

The Letters of Ada Lovelace
11am, 14 and 21 September, Radio 4

Georgina Ferry presents the correspondence of Ada Lovelace, dramatized by an all-star cast. Uninterested in Ada the feminist icon or crazy fantasist, she reveals the intense inner world of a young Victorian lady who anticipated our digital age, when steam power was still the new big thing.

Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing
9pm, 17 September, BBC Four

In this new film, Dr Hannah Fry tells the story of Ada Lovelace. Born in the early 19th-century Ada was a countess of the realm, a scandalous socialite and an ‘enchantress of numbers’. The film is an enthralling tale of how a life infused with brilliance, but blighted by illness and gambling addiction, helped give rise to the modern era of computing.

In this clip from the film, Hannah Fry explains that Ada’s real claim to fame was that she was the first pioneer to realise the true versatility of computers.

Celebrate Ada Lovelace in Oxford


Diagram of an algorithm for the Analytical Engine for the computation of Bernoulli numbers

At the heart of our celebrations is a display at the Bodleian Library, 13 October – 23 December, with Ada’s exercise books, childhood letters, correspondence with Charles Babbage, a newly found daguerreotype, and a wonderful new archive discovery showing computational thinking in action – Lovelace, Babbage, magic squares and networks. To see all of our events (more added all the time!), visit

Oxford is also hosting a Symposium and dinner, a series of Wikpedia events, a 3D printing hack, a schools competition and magazine – and BBC programmes too.

At our  Symposium on 9 and 10 December you can hear  world experts on Lovelace, Babbage, and computing and cultural history: there is an additional student workshop on 8 December as well as a birthday reception and dinner on 9 December featuring a pre-dinner address by Lovelace’s descendant the Earl of Lytton and an after dinner speech by philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley.

We’ve also lined up a series of Wikipedia events, a 3D printing hackathon and a children’s hackathon, and Somerville College are celebrating Lovelace and Women in Science on 16 October.

For schools, our friends at The National Museum of Computing are holding a ‘Write a letter to Ada’ competition and there will be a special Ada Lovelace edition of the award winning schools magazine cs4fn from QMUL (

Further afield, there will be a Lovelace exhibition at London’s Science Museum. BBC4 will screen a new film about Ada Lovelace at 9pm on 17 September, and Radio 4 will air readings from Lovelace’s letters at 11 am on 14 and 21 September.

Further UK and international celebrations are listed by the Finding Ada team at

Deadline for Ada Lovelace Graduate Workshop Proposals Extended

The deadline for proposals to speak at the Ada Lovelace Graduate Workshop has been extended to MIDNIGHT, FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER. As well as topics suggested in the call for papers, we welcome abstracts related to any aspect of Lovelace’s work and legacy, and further afield. This might include papers on early nineteenth-century mathematics, female mathematicians, and scientific networks.

Further information

Schools competition: Ada meets the 21st century

To mark the bicentenary of Ada Lovelace, Oxford’s Ada celebrations are delighted to be working with The National Museum of Computing on a competition to inspire female students in computing.

Competition site:

Closing date 13 October: use any medium to tell Ada Lovelace about 21st-century technology – with prizes in 3 age ranges, under 13, 13-15 and 16-18, presented at our Symposium in Oxford on 9th December. Click through for more information, or visit the competition site at Continue reading

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of computer visionary Ada Lovelace

In 2015 the University of Oxford will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of computer visionary Ada Lovelace.  The centrepiece of the celebrations will be a display at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library (13 October – 23 December 2015)  and a Symposium (9 and 10 December 2015), presenting Lovelace’s life and work, and  contemporary thinking on computing and artificial intelligence.

Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815–1852), is best known for a remarkable article about Charles Babbage’s unbuilt computer, the Analytical Engine. This presented the first documented computer program, to calculate the Bernoulli numbers, and explained the  ideas  underlying Babbage’s  machine – and every one of the billions of computers and computer programs in use today. Going  beyond Babbage’s ideas of computers as manipulating numbers, Lovelace also wrote about their creative possibilities and limits: her contribution was highlighted in one of Alan Turing’s most famous papers ‘Can a machine think?’ Lovelace had wide scientific and intellectual interests and studied with scientist Mary Somerville, and with  Augustus De Morgan, a leading mathematician and pioneer in logic and algebra.

The display, in the Bodleian’s new Weston Library, will offer a chance to see Lovelace’s correspondence with  Babbage, De Morgan, Somerville and others, and her childhood exercises and  mathematical notes.  The  Symposium, on 9th and 10th December 2015, is aimed at a broad audience interested in the history and culture of mathematics and computer science, presenting current scholarship on Lovelace’s life and work, and linking her ideas to contemporary thinking about computing, artificial intelligence and the brain. Confirmed speakers so far include Lovelace biographer Betty Toole, computer historian Doron Swade, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, and graphic novelist Sydney Padua. Other activities will include a workshop for early career researchers, a “Music and Machines” event, and a dinner in Balliol College on 9th December, the eve of Lovelace’s 200th birthday.

Oxford’s celebration is led by the Bodleian Libraries and the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science, working with colleagues in the Mathematics Institute, Oxford e-Research Centre, Somerville College,  the Faculty of English and TORCH. Oxford has a remarkable history of programming research, with two winners of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the Nobel Prize for Computer Science, and the unique breadth and depth of Oxford’s expertise brings a variety of perspectives to understanding Lovelace and the remarkable intellectual community around her, whose ideas
underpin modern computing.

For more information, please keep an eye on this website, where we’ll be listing events, and other news. Please register your interest to receive an email when we open up the Symposium to registration in June 2015.

Professor Ursula Martin 
Department of Computer Science
University of Oxford