which has been in part put together, and to which the name Difference Engine is applicable, on account of the principle upon which its construction is founded. To give some notion of this, it will suffice to consider the series of whole square numbers, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, &c. By subtracting each of these from the succeeding one, we obtain a new series, which we will name the Series of First Differences, consisting of the numbers 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, &c. On subtracting from each of these the preceding one, we obtain the Second Differences, which are all constant and equal to 2. We may represent this succession of operations, and their results, in the following table:—
A. Column of Square Numbers. | B. First Differences. | C. Second Differences. | |
1 | 3 | ||
4 | 2 b | ||
5 | |||
a | 9 | 2 d | |
7 | |||
c | 16 | 2 | |
9 | |||
25 | 2 | ||
11 | |||
36 | |||
From the mode in which the two last columns B and C have been formed, it is easy to see that if, for instance, we desire to pass from the number 5 to the succeeding one 7, we must add to the former the constant difference 2; similarly, if from the square number 9 we would pass to the following one 16, we must add to the former the difference 7, which difference is in other words the preceding difference 5, plus the constant difference 2; or again, which comes to the same thing, to obtain 16 we have only to add together the three numbers 2, 5, 9, placed obliquely in the direction a b. Similarly, we obtain the number 25 by summing up the three numbers placed in the oblique direction d c: commencing by the addition 2 + 7, we have the first difference 9 consecutively to 7; adding 16 to the 9 we have the square 25. We see then that the three numbers 2, 5, 9 being given, the whole series of successive square numbers, and that of their first differences likewise, may be obtained by means of simple additions.
Now, to conceive how these operations may be reproduced by a machine, suppose the latter to have three dials, designated as A, B, C, on each of which are traced, say a thousand divisions, by way of example, over which a needle shall pass. The two dials, C, B, shall have in addition a registering hammer, which is to give a number of strokes equal to that of the divisions indicated by the needle. For each stroke of the registering hammer of the dial C, the needle B shall advance one division;