a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Conceiving Ada (1997)
Lynn Hershman-Leeson

Bizarre, low-budget film in which a female computer programmer from the 20th century accesses the memories of Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron. The film shows her collaboration with mathematician Charles Babbage, but adds many fictional elements. As far as I know, their work did not involve an attempt to understand dreams or to enumerate the possible forms of life. I also have never heard that, out of jealousy, Babbage unreasonably claimed full credit for their collaborative work. Certainly, there was a great deal of sexism that would make it difficult for a woman to be a successful mathematician in 19th century England, but this film seems to exaggerate it even beyond what it was in order to make Ada into a martyr.

But then, perhaps it should be clear that this film is fiction and not history. At the end, the pregnant 20th century programmer travels back in time and offers to put Ada's knowledge and soul into her fetus so that she may have a chance to flourish to her full potential in the more egalitarian 21st century.

Contributed by CW

As many of your readers may already know the ADA language or of it I am posting the official ADA website address to be viewed! There are many links to this language which was (or is?) a primary language used by DOD.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Conceiving Ada
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
  2. Doing our Babbage by Ira Slobodien
  3. Emmy's Time by Anthony Bonato
  4. The Whisper of Disks by John Meaney
  5. The Difference Engine by William Gibson / Bruce Sterling
  6. Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace by Jennifer Chiaverini
  7. Shooting the Sun by Max Byrd
  8. The Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  9. Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley
  10. Doctor Who: The Turing Test by Paul Leonard
Ratings for Conceiving Ada:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2.67/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
1.33/5 (3 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction, Science Fiction,
MotifGenius, Real Mathematicians, Female Mathematicians, Time Travel, Romance, Ada Lovelace,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)