NYTimes article: Brits to start building Babbage's Analytic Engine

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    Registered User hk_mp5kpdw's Avatar
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    NYTimes article: Brits to start building Babbage's Analytic Engine

    This NYTimes article talks about an effort by the British to build a working model of Charles Babbage's Analytic Engine, a device described by Babbage in the 1830's and which could be argued to be the world's first programmable computer (in concept).

    You might need an account to view the article - if you don't have one the NYTimes site allows you to view a certain amount (20 I think) per month after which they cut you off until the next month when you get your next fix/allotment.
    "Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods."
    -Christopher Hitchens

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    I thought they already built this.
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    Registered User hk_mp5kpdw's Avatar
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    They built his "Decision Engine"... this is something else.
    "Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods."
    -Christopher Hitchens

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    Just a pushpin. bernt's Avatar
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    One would think (or at least, I think) that the names should be switched: "Decision Engine" implies that the machine is making decisions, as his proposed Analytical Engine (apparently Turing-complete?) does. Likewise, "Analytical Engine" seems more fitting for a machine that essentially does calculus.

    EDIT: Wait, nevermind. The machine that actually got built was called the "Difference Engine". That name fits a lot better to me.
    Last edited by bernt; 11-09-2011 at 12:13 AM.
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    Registered User hk_mp5kpdw's Avatar
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    Oops, my mistake, I knew it started with a 'D'.
    "Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods."
    -Christopher Hitchens

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    I think the assumption I made is more due to the fact that they had tested Ada Lovelace's program that she had written for the Analytic Engine. I thought they had done a full-blown test on an actual Analytic Engine, but I guess they just proved it would work in theory. Also, now looking at Ada's Wikipedia entry, the final clause in this statement still would have thrown me off.

    Quote Originally Posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace#First_.22computer_program.22
    However the engine was never actually constructed to completion during Lovelace's lifetime.
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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom View Post
    ...they had tested Ada Lovelace's program that she had written for the Analytic Engine...
    I assume it was valid? Do you have a source?

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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    I assume it was valid? Do you have a source?
    I found the actual paper she translated. The "program" she wrote would be in her notes, see here. You'll have to answer your questions yourself, really.

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