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

Other articles related to "difference engine, 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 ... the British government authorized the sum of £1200 for a full-scale difference engine with attached printing apparatus based on the design of Per Georg Scheutz and his son Edvard to be constructed by ... 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 ...
The 19th Century - Automatic Mechanical Calculators
... a small cogwheel assembly that demonstrated the operation of his difference engine, a mechanical calculator which would be capable of holding and manipulating seven numbers of 31 decimal digits each ... The development of this machine, later called "Difference Engine No ... After abandoning the difference engine, Babbage devoted his energy to the design and construction of an analytical engine of far higher powers than the ...
The Difference Engine
... The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling ... Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer (actually his analytical engine rather than the difference engine) ...
Ada Lovelace - Biography - Charles Babbage
... Babbage on many occasions, 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 ...

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