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Heine and Lovelace

From now on, our new series "Heine und Lovelace fragen nach..." will be published here. In it, Heinrich Heine and Ada Lovelace will explain key terms from the world of artificial intelligence and data science together with scientists from the  Manchot research group. The terms will be used in the research field of the research group's four use cases: health, business, politics and law. The explanatory videos will last no longer than one minute. They are intended to make complex topics understandable in a short and concise way for all interested people outside the field of AI research.


The story behind

What might have happened if programmer Ada Lovelace had bumped into her contemporary Heinrich Heine in London in the 1840s? The poet actually stayed in London for a time and would probably have been an interesting conversational partner.

Ada Lovelace, a technophile, is sitting on a bench in her favorite park, St. James', during her lunch break, poring over her 'notes'. "Allow me?" asks an older man with a German accent. "You caught my attention because of your thoughtful face. You write...?" "Mathematics is a language" Lovelace begins to explain her musings. She says there is a machine that has the potential to process numbers, symbols, images and text. It is even possible for the machine to compose pieces of music. Heinrich Heine understood words and their meaning, but this seemed new to him. The two engaged in a conversation about mathematics and poetry as they walked through the park in the direction where the miraculous machine was supposed to be located.... 


With researchers from HHU, including Joana Grah, Philipp Spohr, Sebastian Scharf, Anna Rommerskirchen, Larissa Pomrehn and Camilla Krämer.

With our series, we want to make complex terms from the world of artificial intelligence and data science understandable for any interested person in just a few minutes. 

Once a month, on the second Wednesday, there will be a new episode!

Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856), writer, poet, journalist and name patron of our beautiful university, was part of the Young Germany movement and is considered the "overcomer" of Romanticism. He wrote political and satirical texts, for which he was praised in his time, but also criticized and even banned, so that he had to live in exile in Paris due to anti-Semitic hostility. Before he went there, he made several trips, for example to England. He wrote down his impressions as ironic and not very factual "Reisebilder" (travel pictures).

„Ich habe das Merkwürdigste gesehen, was die Welt dem staunenden Geiste zeigen kann, ich habe es gesehen und staune noch immer — noch immer starrt in meinem Gedächtnisse dieser steinerne Wald von Häusern und dazwischen der drängende Strom lebendiger Menschengesichter mit all ihren bunten Leidenschaften, mit all ihrer grauenhaften Hast der Liebe, des Hungers und des Hasses — ich spreche von London.“ (Heinrich Heine)

Based on the geographical locations of his homes, Heine had a wide variety of points of contact with England - such as trade relations, personal and artistic interests. The strong influence of the English poet Lord Byron, the father of Ada Lovelace, on poets from Germany and also Heine, establishes a real connection between the two characters of our little story.

Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852) was a mathematician and writer known today for her work on Charles Babbage's "Analytical Engine." After a century, her visionary achievement is finally being recognized today, unrecognized during her lifetime and far beyond.

Ada Lovelace grew up with her mathematically minded mother Anne Isabella Noel-Byron, who was abandoned by Lovelace's father, the romantic poet Lord Byron, after her birth. Probably out of a dislike for him, the mother cancels the artistic education for her daughter and instead focuses on her education in the natural sciences, although these were not necessarily typical subjects for a young woman at the beginning of the 19th century.

Various fortunate coincidences enabled Ada Lovelace to translate Luigi Menabreas' writings on Charles Babbage's "Analytical Engine" in 1843. Her resulting so-called "Notes", contain a plan of how to program the engine with a code that calculates Bernoulli numbers. Ada Lovelace is thus considered the first person to have written an algorithm that a computer could have executed. However, Babbage's plans were far ahead of the time and his machine could never be completed.


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