Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 3 (1843).djvu/684

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674
L. F. MENABREA ON BABBAGE'S ANALYTICAL ENGINE.

cases the difficulty will disappear, if we observe that for a great number of functions the series which represent them may be rendered convergent; so that, according to the degree of approximation desired, we may limit ourselves to the calculation of a certain number of terms of the series, neglecting the rest. By this method the question is reduced to the primitive case of a finite polynomial. It is thus that we can calculate the succession of the logarithms of numbers. But since, in this particular instance, the terms which had been originally neglected receive increments in a ratio so continually increasing for equal increments of the variable, that the degree of approximation required would ultimately be affected, it is necessary, at certain intervals, to calculate the value of the function by different methods, and then respectively to use the results thus obtained, as data whence to deduce, by means of the machine, the other intermediate values. We see that the machine here performs the office of the third section of calculators mentioned in describing the tables computed by order of the French government, and that the end originally proposed is thus fulfilled by it.

Such is the nature of the first machine which Mr. Babbage conceived. We see that its use is confined to cases where the numbers required are such as can be obtained by means of simple additions or subtractions; that the machine is, so to speak, merely the expression of one[1] particular theorem of analysis; and that, in short, its operations cannot be extended so as to embrace the solution of an infinity of other questions included within the domain of mathematical analysis. It was while contemplating the vast field which yet remained to be traversed, that Mr. Babbage, renouncing his original essays, conceived the plan of another system of mechanism whose operations should themselves possess all the generality of algebraical notation, and which, on this account, he denominates the Analytical Engine.

Having now explained the state of the question, it is time for me to develope the principle on which is based the construction of this latter machine. When analysis is employed for the solution of any problem, there are usually two classes of operations to execute: firstly, the numerical calculation of the various coefficients; and secondly, their distribution in relation to the quantities affected by them. If, for example, we have to obtain

  1. See Note A.