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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Conceiving Ada (1997)

ADA: At first I hated mathematics. Mother would often punish me. I was required to write two daily journals. One was my notes in which I analysed mathematics and in the other apologies to my mother.

ADA to Babbage: I have been studying your drawings. Your analytic engine weaves algebraic patterns like ??? flowers. It’s so beautiful.

TEACHER: Whereas arithmetic’s object is passage through time, geometry’s object is extension in space. Only one line can be drawn in parallel.
ADA (storytelling v.o.): As I grew older the lessons took place inside the cottage where I could more easily negotiate whatever payment was required to master the deeper secrets of mathematics.
ADA to teacher: Teach me about infinity.
Teacher: You know so much already, you are beginning to frighten me.

ADA (v.o.): My mother loved arithmetic. Father called her his princess of parallelograms. It was because of my mother’s curiosity that I first met Charles Babbage.

ADA to Babbage: I’ve studied advanced calculus.

EMMY (the present day computer scientist): What are you writing about?
ADA: The soul of something… the soul of an engine. I’m not sure whether its mathematics what I am writing. I am not sure whether it is really pure enough to be considered mathematics, but it doesn’t matter because noone will ever see it. It’s just a working model for Babbage’s engine.

ADA: Babbage called me the enchantress of numbers.

Ada explaining something she has written: systems, binary systems.

ADA:David the children’s tutor agreed to help me with my experiments in statistical probability. Some people call it gambling.

ADA: I am dreaming of a machine, like Babbage’s that will one day allow us to predict an infinite series of numerical outcomes, an infinite number of dreams

ADA commenting on her lover leading a double life: Parallel lines running to infinity.

MOTHER: If you think me cruel Ada, constraining you to the one subject of mathematics, consider this. Had you been beset since birth with the thrilling savagery of art and poetry, you would have become by now a monstrosity.

DOCTOR: It seems that the uterus is destroyed. All that mathematics was just too much for your body. You brought it on yourself.

ADA: I never thought the equation (her life) would end quite like this. In pain and with this wretched bleading.

ADA: There is genius in our blood. We will calculate another solution.