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Issue No.04 - October-December (2010 vol.32)
pp: 18-31
David A. Grier , George Washington University
ABSTRACT
<p>At Cambridge, Charles Babbage developed the mathematical foundation that helped him design and build his computing machines. Yet, his experience at college tells the story of a young man who was experimenting with his identity, exploring new ideas, and testing himself. Although something of a rebel, Babbage yearned to have a place in British society for himself and his mathematics.</p>
INDEX TERMS
History of computing, mathematics, Charles Babbage
CITATION
David A. Grier, "The Inconsistent Youth of Charles Babbage", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.32, no. 4, pp. 18-31, October-December 2010, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2010.67
REFERENCES
1. Babbage to Herschel, 1 Aug. 1814, Herschel Papers, Royal Soc. Archives.
2. Herschel to Babbage, 7 Aug. 1814, Herschel Papers, Royal Soc. Archives.
3. J. Austen, Emma, Penguin, 1966 (1816), p. 390.
4. Austen's Emma, p. 416.
5. A. Hyman, Charles Babbage, Pioneer of the Computer, Princeton Univ. Press, 1982; J. Dubbey The Mathematical Work of Charles Babbage, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979.
6. Hyman's Charles Babbage, p. 24.
7. C. Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, Longman Green, 1864, reprinted M. Campbell-Kelly, ed., Rutgers Univ. Press, 1994, pp. 25–26.
8. W.W. Rouse Ball and J.A. Venn, "Admissions to Trinity College Cambridge," vol. IV, 1801–1850, Macmillan, 1911, p. 67.
9. Byron to Elizabeth Bridget Pigot, 26 Oct. 1807; L. Marchand Lord Byron, Selected Letters and Journals, Belknap Press, 1982, p. 11.
10. W.W. Rouse Ball, Notes on the History of Trinity College, Macmillan and Co., 1899, p. 150.
11. Babbage's Passages, p. 26.
12. Babbage account book for 1810–1811, van Sinderen Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale Univ.
13. Babbage's Passages, p. 25.
14. J. Austen to C. Austen 3 Nov. 1813, Letters of Jane Austen, D. Le Faye ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 1995, p. 250.
15. F. Burney to C. Burney 5 Jan. 1814, , The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. VII, E. Bloom, and L. Bloom eds., Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 739.
16. F. Burney to C. Burney 4 Oct. 1814, , The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. VII, E. Bloom, and L. Bloom eds., Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 825.
17. Babbage's Passages, p. 24.
18. D.A. Winstanley, Early Victorian Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1940, p. 4.
19. W. Whewell to his father, 17 Feb. 1813, , The Life and Selections from the Correspondence of William Whewell, J.M. Douglas ed., C. Kegan Paul& Co, 1881, pp. 9–10.
20. Babbage's Passages, p. 19. In Passages,, Babbage dates the purchase to 1811, but Buxton gives 1810 and corrects the date in Passages (H.W. Buxton, Memoir of the Life and Labours of the Late Charles Babbage Esq. F. R. S., A. Hyman ed., MIT Press, 1988, p. 21.) Given that Babbage wrote to Higman about the theory of functions in the summer of 1811, Buxton's date seems the most likely. (Tues., Aug. 1811, Buxton's Memoir of the Life, p. 25. )
21. Babbage's Passages, p. 19.
22. J.L. Lagrange, Méchanique analytique, V. Courcier, 1788, preface.
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25. B.C. Raworth, "Courses of Study at Cambridge University, England in 1802," William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, vol. 24, no. 1, 1915, pp. 11–28.
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27. Buxton's Memoir of the Life, p. 29.
28. E. Halevy, History of the English People in 1815, Penguin, 1939, p. 544.
29. R. Martin, Evangelicals United: Ecumenical Stirrings in Pre-Victorian Britain, 1795–1830, Scarecrow Press, 1983, p. 104.
30. Babbage's Passages, p. 20.
31. L. Howsam, Cheap Bibles, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991, p. 3.
32. The contrast concerns how the two schools represent rates of changes. In the analytical school, rates of change are represented by an expression that uses d and resembles a fraction. For example, if we were studying a barrel rolling down a hill, we would note that the barrel goes quickly down the steep parts of the hill and slows where the hill becomes flat. If we represent the distance that the barrel moves from the top of the hill by Z, then the rate of change in that position is the speed. In the analytical school, we would represent the speed of the barrel by the fraction dZ/dt, a symbol that suggests the change of position divided by time. In contrast, the Newtonian school of calculus would represent that same change in speed with a dot, Ż.
33. Even his dates are unknown at this writing.
34. Babbage's Passages, p. 21.
35. T.W. Heyck, The Transformation of Intellectual Life in Victorian England, St. Martin's Press, 1982, p. 72.
36. D.M. Cannell, George Green, Athlone Press, 1993, p. 66.
37. George Peacock (1791–1858), Richard Gwatkin (1791–?), John Herschel (1792–1871), John Whittaker (1790–1854), and Henry Wilkenson (1791–1838).
38. Buxton's Memoir of the Life, p. 30.
39. W. Whewell to his father, 17 Feb. 1813, The Life and Selections from the Correspondence of William Whewell, J.M. Douglas ed., C. Kegan Paul& Co,1881, pp. 9–10.
40. G. Buttman, In the Shadow of the Telescope, Charles Scribner, 1970, p. 13.
41. Babbage to Herschel, 20 Jun. 1812, Royal Soc. Archives.
42. Herschel to Babbage, 1 Jul. 1812, Royal Soc. Archives.
43. Herschel to Whittaker, Aug. 1812, St. John's College Library, Cambridge Univ.
44. Babbage to Herschel, 10 Jul. 1812, Royal Soc. Archives.
45. Babbage to Herschel, 20 Jun. 1812, Royal Soc. Archives.
46. W. Rouse Ball, and J.A. Venn eds., Admissions to Trinity College Cambridge, vol. I, Macmillan, 1916, p. 12.
47. W. Whewell to his father, 17 Oct. 1812, , The Life and Selections from the Correspondence of William Whewell, J.M. Douglas ed., p. 8.
48. W. Rouse Ball, A History of the Study of Mathematics at Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1889, p. 125.
49. , Rouse Ball and Venn's Admissions to Trinity College Cambridge, p. 12. The number of students increased from 64 to 105 in 18 months.
50. Maule to Babbage, 18 Jan. 1819, British Library.
51. Babbage to John, 22 Dec. 1812, Royal Soc. Archives.
52. G. Airy, "On the Earlier Tripos of the University of Cambridge," Nature,24 Feb. 1837, pp. 397–399.
53. B.C. Raworth, "Courses of Study at Cambridge University, England in 1802," William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, vol. 24, no. 1, 1915, pp. 11–28.
54. J.W.L. Glaisher, "The Mathematical Tripos," Nature,2 Dec. 1886, pp. 101–106.
55. Herschel to Babbage, 8 Feb. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
56. Herschel to Whittaker, 20 Feb. 1813, St. John's College.
57. Whittaker to Herschel, 26 Feb. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
58. Whittaker to Herschel, 13 May 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
59. W.H. Whitmore, "Whitmore Tracts," David Clapp and Son, 1875, pp. 7–11; B. Lovell, "Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett," Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, vol. 21, Nov. 1975, pp. 1–115. For the date of engagement, see Babbage to Herschel, 1 Aug. 1814, Royal Soc. Archives.
60. G. Tee, "The Heritage of Charles Babbage in Australasia," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 5, no. 1, 1983, pp. 45–59.
61. P. Enros, "The Analytical Society (1812–1813): Precursor of the Renewal of Cambridge Mathematics," Historica Mathematica, vol. 10, 1983, pp. 24–47.
62. Memoirs of the Analytical Society, Deighton & Sons et al., 1813, pp. i–ii.
63. Babbage to Herschel, 8 Feb. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
64. Babbage's Passages, pp. 26–27.
65. Herschel to Babbage, 4 May 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
66. Whittaker to Herschel, 1 Jun. 1813, St. John's College Library, Cambridge Univ.
67. Babbage to Herschel, 2 Jul. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
68. Babbage to Herschel, 1 May 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
69. Babbage's Passages, p. 27.
70. D. McDonald, "Smithson Tennant," Notes and Records of the Royal Soc. of London, vol. 17.
71. Babbage to Herschel, 23 Sept. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
72. Herschel to Babbage, 26 Oct. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
73. Babbage to Herschel, 25 Jan. 1814, Royal Soc. Archives.
74. Bromhead to Babbage, 1813, British Library.
75. Herschel to Babbage, 12 Jan. 1814, Royal Soc. Archives.
76. Babbage to Herschel, 25 Jan. 1814, Royal Soc. Archives.
77. M. Wilkes, "Herschel, Peacock, Babbage and the Development of the Cambridge Curriculum," Notes and Records of the Royal Soc. of London, vol. 44, 1990, pp. 205–219.
78. Whittaker to Herschel, 28 Jan. 1814, St. John's College Library, Cambridge Univ.
79. Slegg to Babbage, 7 Feb. 1814, British Library.
80. M. Wilkes, "Was Babbage Caught in the Act?" IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 22, no. 4, 2000, pp. 69–70.
81. Babbage to Herschel, 1 Apr. 1814, Royal Soc. Archives.
82. Enros, "The Analytical Society (1812–1813)," pp. 24–47.
83. Herschel to Babbage, 13 Jul. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
84. Herschel to Bromhead, 13 Nov. 1813, Royal Soc. Archives.
85. Babbage to Herschel, 1 Apr. 1814, Royal Soc. Archives.
86. W. Thackeray, Pendennis, Harper, 1850, pp. 169.
87. Babbage's Passages, pp. 23–24.
88. W. Rouse Ball, A Short Primer on the History of Mathematics, Macmillian, 1985, p. 123.
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