[SIGCIS-Members] Origin of 'language'?
d.nofre at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 04:24:38 PST 2014
If I am allowed to speculate, I wonder if we shouldn't look at the
developments of the early 19th-century, and specially the interest on
mechanical agency and language, as Mark has put in, rather as part of the
longer tradition of automata construction, and particularly late 18th-
century fascination with speaking automata (see, most recently: Kang's*
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines* and Adelheid Voskuhl's *Androids in the
Enlightenment)*. Of course, a speaking machine is not the same than
speaking to the machine, but the stress remains on linguistic
communication. And, one last thing, does anybody know why did Von Neumann
choose the term "automata"? Just a coincidence ?
On 6 November 2014 09:17, Mark Priestley <m.priestley at gmail.com> wrote:
> Menabrea wrote, concerning the Analytical Engine:
> "the cards are merely a translation of algebraical formulae, or, to
> express it better, another fom of analytical notation" (quoted on p. 60 of
> my book "The Science of Operations").
> which maybe counts as an early explicit connection between "programming
> notations" and "language" (scare quotes emphasized). Even the cards of the
> AE are being described here as language-like.
> Once you've got mechanical agency, real or envisaged, it seems to have
> been very natural for people - eg Babbage, Stibitz, Hopper - to think in
> terms of communication, and the language metaphor seems to enter as a way
> of categorizing to the kind of communication going on between humans and
> calculating machines.
> On 6 Nov 2014 01:04, "David Alan Grier" <grier at gwu.edu> wrote:
>> If we are going to Lovelace, then we need to go to the Memoirs of the
>> Analytical Society. "It is the spirit of this symbolic language, by that
>> mechanical fact, which carries the eye at one glance through the most
>> intricate modifications of quantity, to condense pages into lines and
>> volumes into pages; shortening the road to discovery, and preserving the
>> mind unfatigued by the continued efforts of attention to the minor parts
>> that it may exert its whole vigor on those which are important". Babbage
>> and Herschel wrote it. Babbage referenced it in his later writings.
>> Lovelace would have certainly known it.
>> David Alan Grier
>> Past President, IEEE Computer Society
>> Associate Professor, International Science & Technology Policy
>> Elliott School of International Affairs
>> George Washington University
>> grier at gwu.edu
>> On Nov 5, 2014, at 2:07 PM, McMillan, William W <
>> william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu> wrote:
>> > Do these notes by Ada Lovelace count"
>> > 'The bounds of arithmetic were however outstepped the moment the idea
>> of applying the cards had occurred; and the Analytical Engine does not
>> occupy common ground with mere “calculating machines.” It holds a position
>> wholly its own; and the considerations it suggests are most interesting in
>> their nature. In enabling mechanism to combine together general symbols in
>> successions of unlimited variety and extent, a uniting link is established
>> between the operations of matter and the abstract mental processes of the
>> most abstract branch of mathematical science. A new, a vast, and a powerful
>> language is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its
>> truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical
>> application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our
>> possession have rendered possible. Thus not only the mental and the
>> material, but the theoretical and the practical in the mathematical world,
>> are brought into more intimate and effective connexion with each other. We
>> are not aware of its being on record that anything partaking in the nature
>> of what is so well designated the Analytical Engine has been hitherto
>> proposed, or even thought of, as a practical possibility, any more than the
>> idea of a thinking or of a reasoning machine'
>> > [emphasis added]
>> > https://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html
>> > Her use of "language" here seems to be specific to the expression of
>> computation and reasoning.
>> > - Bill
>> > ________________________________
>> > From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [members-bounces at sigcis.org] on
>> behalf of Marie Gevers [marie.gevers at unamur.be]
>> > Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2014 4:13 AM
>> > To: members
>> > Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Origin of 'language'?
>> > I wonder by whom and when the word 'language' was used for the first
>> time in the framework of computer sciences.
>> > Can anybody enlighten me?
>> > Thanks in advance.
>> > Marie
>> > --
>> > [cid:part1.03020706.06070701 at unamur.be]
>> > Prof. Marie d'UDEKEM-GEVERS
>> > Chargée de cours
>> > Conseillère à la formation
>> > Professeure invitée au Collège Belgique
>> > Faculté d'Informatique et
>> > Centre d'Etudes Sciences et PHIlosophie à Namur (ESPHIN)
>> > Centre de Recherche Information, Droit & Société (CRIDS)
>> > T. +32 (0)81 724 973
>> > F. +32 (0)81 724 967
>> > marie.gevers at unamur.be<mailto:marie.gevers at unamur.be>
>> > http://www.unamur.be/universite/personnes/page_view/01001574/
>> > Université de Namur ASBL
>> > Rue de Bruxelles 61 - 5000 Namur
>> > Belgique
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