March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day, a commemoration of the contributions of women in science and technology in honor of it’s namesake. Ada Lovelace (nay Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace) was the daughter of Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Milbanke, born in 1815. She was a contemporary of Charles Babbage, who is generally credited in the history of computing with designing the first mechanical, general-purpose computer: the Analytical Engine. Although not built during their life times, Babbages’ ideas and Ada’s analytic abilities led her to write notes which are today regarded as the first algorithm written specifically to be performed by a general-purpose machine; in short, the first computer program.
I would like to take the occasion to tip my hat to Sally Fincher, who gave one of the keynote talks at the 2010 SIGCSE conference in Milwaukee, WI and was, by many accounts, fantastic. I’ve learned to expect nothing less from this stalwart of computer science education. My first readings about CSEd and CSEd research had Sally’s fingerprints on them and opened my eyes to a community of researchers who were beginning to articulate a discipline and praxis that I had been amateurishly nipping at the edges of in my early years of teaching.
Sally has worked with others to help envision the future of work in CSEd; to inspire a generation of researchers, teachers, and students; and to lay the foundation for what I hope will be a lasting trend toward more and better computation education across grade levels. For this, I am ever grateful.