Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 3 (1843).djvu/704

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TRANSLATOR'S NOTES TO M. MENABREA'S MEMOIR

numerical quantities; but the present mode is in some cases more simple, and offers in reality quite as much distinctness when understood.

The operating mechanism can even be thrown into action independently of any object to operate upon (although of course no result could then be developed). Again, it might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.

The Analytical Engine is an embodying of the science of operations, constructed with peculiar reference to abstract number as the subject of those operations. The Difference Engine is the embodying of one particular and very limited set of operations, which (see the notation used in note B) may be expressed thus, \scriptstyle{(+,~+,~+,~+,~+,~+)}, or thus, \scriptstyle{6(+)}. Six repetitions of the one operation, \scriptstyle{+}, is, in fact, the whole sum and object of that engine. It has seven columns, and a number on any column can add itself to a number on the next column to its right-hand. So that, beginning with the column furthest to the left, six additions can be effected, and the result appears on the seventh column, which is the last on the right-hand. The operating mechanism of this engine acts in as separate and independent a manner as that of the Analytical Engine; but being susceptible of only one unvarying and restricted combination, it has little force or interest in illustration of the distinct nature of the science of operations. The importance of regarding the Analytical Engine under this point of view will, we think, become more and more obvious, as the reader proceeds with M. Menabrea's clear and masterly article. The calculus of operations is likewise in itself a topic of so much interest, and has of late years been so much more written on and thought on than formerly, that any bearing which that engine, from its mode of constitution, may possess upon the illustration of this branch of mathematical science, should not be overlooked. Whether the inventor of this engine had any such views in his mind while working out the invention, or whether he may subsequently ever have regarded it under this phase, we do not know; but it is one that forcibly occurred to ourselves on becoming acquainted with the means through which analytical combinations are actually attained by the mechanism. We cannot forbear suggesting one practical result which it appears to us must be greatly facilitated by the independent manner in which the engine orders and combines its operations: we allude to the attainment of those combinations into which imaginary quantities enter. This is a branch of its processes into which we have not had the opportunity of inquiring, and our conjecture therefore as to the principle on which we conceive the accomplishment of such results may have been made to depend, is very probably not in accordance with the fact, and less subservient for the purpose than some other principles, or at least requiring the cooperation of others. It seems to us obvious, however, that where operations are so independent in their mode of acting, it must be easy by means of a few simple