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Poems That Solve PuzzlesThe History and Science of Algorithms$
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Chris Bleakley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198853732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198853732.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Computer Dreams

Computer Dreams

(p.39) 3 Computer Dreams
Poems That Solve Puzzles

Chris Bleakley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 tells the story of the visionaries that first imagined the computer. In the 19th century, Charles Babbage invented a mechanical computer but failed in his attempts to build it. He and Ada Lovelace wrote a series of programs for the proposed machine. These programs were the first transcriptions of algorithms into sequences of machine executable instructions. After Babbage’s failure, the idea of building a real computer was abandoned for fifty years. As a young PhD student, Alan Turing forever defined the relationship between algorithms and computers. According to his definition, a computer is a machine that performs algorithms. He devised a theoretical computer that allowed him to investigate the limits of computation. This, before a single computer was ever built. Turing went on to work as a cryptographer during World War II. Turing outlined the future of computing but tragically died at the age of 41.

Keywords:   algorithm, computer, computability, Charles Babbage, Analytic Engine, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Turing Machine

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