We cannot forbear suggesting one practical result which it appears to us must be greatly facilitated by the independent manner in which the engine orders and combines its operations: we allude to the attainment of those combinations into which imaginary quantities enter.
The Analytical Engine, on the contrary, can either add, subtract, multiply or divide with equal facility; and performs each of these four operations in a direct manner, without the aid of any of the other three.
With whomsoever or wheresoever may rest the present causes of difficulty that apparently exist towards either the completion of the old engine, or the commencement of the new one, we trust they will not ultimately result in this generation’s being acquainted with these inventions through the medium of pen, ink and paper merely; and still more do we hope, that for the honour of our country’s reputation in the future pages of history, these causes will not lead to the completion of the undertaking by some other nation or government.
Indeed we may consider the engine as the material and mechanical representative of analysis, and that our actual working powers in this department of human study will be enabled more effectually than heretofore to keep pace with our theoretical knowledge of its principles and laws, through the complete control which the engine gives us over the executive manipulation of algebraical and numerical symbols.
In almost every computation a great variety of arrangements for the succession of the processes is possible, and various considerations must influence the selections amongst them for the purposes of a calculating engine. One essential object is to choose that arrangement which shall tend to reduce to a minimum the time necessary for completing the calculation.
It is however pretty evident, on general principles, that in devising for mathematical truths a new form in which to record and throw themselves out for actual use, views are likely to be induced, which should again react on the more theoretical phase of the subject.
The method of differences is, in fact, a method of additions; and as it includes within its means a larger number of results attainable by addition simply, than any other mathematical principle, it was very appropriately selected as the basis on which to construct an Adding Machine, so as to give to the powers of such a machine the widest possible range.
The further we analyse the manner in which such an engine performs its processes and attains its results, the more we perceive how distinctly it places in a true and just light the mutual relations and connexion of the various steps of mathematical analysis; how clearly it separates those things which are in reality distinct and independent, and unites those which are mutually dependent.
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.
It were much to be desired, that when mathematical processes pass through the human brain instead of through the medium of inanimate mechanism, it were equally a necessity of things that the reasonings connected with operations should hold the same just place as a clear and well-defined branch of the subject of analysis, a fundamental but yet independent ingredient in the science, which they must do in studying the engine.
The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.
One main reason why the separate nature of the science of operations has been little felt, and in general little dwelt on, is the shifting meaning of many of the symbols used in mathematical notation. First, the symbols of operation are frequently also the symbols of the results of operations.
The confusion, the difficulties, the contradictions which, in consequence of a want of accurate distinctions in this particular, have up to even a recent period encumbered mathematics in all those branches involving the consideration of negative and impossible quantities, will at once occur to the reader who is at all versed in this science, and would alone suffice to justify dwelling somewhat on the point, in connexion with any subject so peculiarly fitted to give forcible illustration of it as the Analytical Engine.
The object of the engine is in fact to give the utmost practical efficiency to the resources of numerical interpretations of the higher science of analysis, while it uses the processes and combinations of this latter.
The Analytical Engine is an embodying of the science of operations, constructed with peculiar reference to abstract number as the subject of those operations.
In abstract mathematics, of course operations alter those particular relations which are involved in the considerations of number and space, and the results of operations are those peculiar results which correspond to the nature of the subjects of operation.
Secondly, figures, the symbols of numerical magnitude, are frequently also the symbols of operations, as when they are the indices of powers. Wherever terms have a shifting meaning, independent sets of considerations are liable to become complicated together, and reasoning and results are frequently falsified.
We might even invent laws for series or formula in an arbitrary manner, and set the engine to work upon them, and thus deduce numerical results which we might not otherwise have thought of obtaining; but this would hardly perhaps in any instance be productive of any great practical utility, or calculated to rank higher than as a philosophical amusement.
It must be evident how multifarious and how mutually complicated are the considerations which the working of such an engine involve. There are frequently several distinct sets of effects going on simultaneously; all in a manner independent of each other, and yet to a greater or less degree exercising a mutual influence.
This one fact implies everything; and it is scarcely necessary to point out, for instance, that while the Difference Engine can merely tabulate, and is incapable of developing, the Analytical Engine can either tabulate or develope.
The intellectual, the moral, the religious seem to me all naturally bound up and interlinked together in one great and harmonious whole.
One essential object is to choose that arrangement which shall tend to reduce to a minimum the time necessary for completing the calculation.
The Difference Engine can in reality (as has been already partly explained) do nothing but add; and any other processes, not excepting those of simple subtraction, multiplication and division, can be performed by it only just to that extent in which it is possible, by judicious mathematical arrangement and artifices, to reduce them to a series of additions.
But the science of operations, as derived from mathematics more especially, is a science of itself, and has its own abstract truth and value; just as logic has its own peculiar truth and value, independently of the subjects to which we may apply its reasonings and processes.
In studying the action of the Analytical Engine, we find that the peculiar and independent nature of the considerations which in all mathematical analysis belong to operations, as distinguished from the objects operated upon and from the results of the operations performed upon those objects, is very strikingly defined and separated.
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 connection with each other.
It may be desirable to explain, that by the word operation, we mean any process which alters the mutual relation of two or more things, be this relation of what kind it may. This is the most general definition, and would include all subjects in the universe.
The more I study, the more insatiable do I feel my genius for it to be.
Understand well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand.
The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine… Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.
Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently … It is that which feels & discovers what is, the REAL which we see not, which exists not for our senses… Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things… Imagination too shows what is … Hence she is or should be especially cultivated by the truly Scientific, those who wish to enter into the worlds around us!
In considering any new subject, there is frequently a tendency, first, to overrate what we find to be already interesting or remarkable; and, secondly, by a sort of natural reaction, to undervalue the true state of the case, when we do discover that our notions have surpassed those that were really tenable
Many persons who are not conversant with mathematical studies imagine that because the business of [Babbage’s Analytical Engine] is to give its results in numerical notation, the nature of its processes must consequently be arithmetical and numerical, rather than algebraical and analytical. This is an error. The engine can arrange and combine its numerical quantities exactly as if they were letters or any other general symbols; and in fact it might bring out its results in algebraical notation, were provisions made accordingly.
I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand about the many connections and relations which occur to me, how the matter in question was first thought of or arrived at, etc., etc.
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.
That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.
If you can’t give me poetry, can’t you give me poetical science?
The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths. Its province is to assist us to making available what we are already acquainted with.
Forget this world and all its troubles and if possible.