Difference Engine

A difference engine is an automatic mechanical calculator designed to tabulate polynomial functions. The name derives from the method of divided differences, a way to interpolate or tabulate functions by using a small set of polynomial coefficients. Both logarithmic and trigonometric functions, functions commonly used by both navigators and scientists, can be approximated by polynomials, so a difference engine can compute many useful sets of numbers.

The historical difficulty in producing error free tables by teams of mathematicians and human "computers" spurred Charles Babbage's desire to build a mechanism to automate the process.

Read more about Difference EngineHistory, Operation, Method of Differences, Initial Values

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The 19th Century - Automatic Mechanical Calculators
1822, Charles Babbage presented a small cogwheel assembly that demonstrated the operation of his difference engine, a mechanical calculator which would be capable ... The development of this machine, later called "Difference Engine No ... In 1834, Babbage started to design his analytical engine, which will become the undisputed ancestor of the modern mainframe computer with two separate ...
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... The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling ... a mechanical computer (actually his analytical engine rather than the difference engine) ...
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... including socially and in relation to Babbage's Difference Engine and Analytical Engine ... Mary Somerville Ada became fascinated with his Difference Engine and used her relationship with Somerville to visit him as often as she could ... Luigi Menabrea's memoir on Babbage's newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine ...
Bryan Donkin - Career - Difference Engine
... in investigating the ownership of intellectual property, tooling and piece-parts of the difference engine, whose manufacture had been commissioned by Babbage from Joseph Clement ... In 1857 the British government authorized the sum of £1200 for a full-scale difference engine with attached printing apparatus based on the design of ... Despite the engine's printing unit working badly, the Royal Society and the Astronomer Royal were generally positive when they inspected it on August 30, 1859, expressing their satisfaction at its construction ...

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