Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 3 (1843).djvu/705

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695
ON BABBAGE'S ANALYTICAL ENGINE.

provisions and additions in arranging the mechanism, to bring out a double set of results, viz.—1st, the numerical magnitudes which are the results of operations performed on numerical data. (These results are the primary object of the engine). 2ndly, the symbolical results to be attached to those numerical results, which symbolical results are not less the necessary and logical consequences of operations performed upon symbolical data, than are numerical results when the data are numerical[1].

If we compare together the powers and the principles of construction of the Difference and of the Analytical Engines, we shall perceive that the capabilities of the latter are immeasurably more extensive than those of the former, and that they in fact hold to each other the same relationship as that of analysis to arithmetic. The Difference Engine can effect but one particular series of operations, viz. that required for tabulating the integral of the special function


\Delta^n u_z = 0;

and as it can only do this for values of n up to 7[2], it cannot be considered as being the most general expression even of one particular function, much less as being the expression of any and all possible functions of all degrees of generality. The Difference Engine can in reality (as has been already partly explained) do nothing but add; and any other processes, not excepting those of simple subtraction, multiplication and division, can be performed by it only just to that extent in which it is possible, by judicious mathematical arrangement and artifices, to reduce them to a series of additions. The method of differences is, in fact, a method of additions; and as it includes within its means a larger number of results attainable by addition simply, than any other mathematical principle, it was very appropriately selected as the basis on which to construct an Adding Machine, so as to give to the powers of such a machine the widest possible range. The Analytical Engine, on the contrary, can either add, subtract, multiply or divide with equal facility; and performs each of these four operations in a direct manner, without the aid of any of the other three. This one fact implies everything; and it is scarcely necessary to point out, for instance, that while the Difference Engine can merely tabulate,

  1. In fact such an extension as we allude to, would merely constitute a further and more perfected development of any system introduced for making the proper combinations of the signs plus and minus. How ably M. Menabrea has touched on this restricted case is pointed out in Note B.
  2. The machine might have been constructed so as to tabulate for a higher value of n than seven. Since, however, every unit added to the value of n increases the extent of the mechanism requisite, there would on this account be a limit beyond which it could not be practically carried. Seven is sufficiently high for the calculation of all ordinary tables.

    The fact that, in the Analytical Engine, the same extent of mechanism suffices for the solution of \Delta^n u_z = 0, whether n = 7, n = 100,000, or n = any number whatever, at once suggests how entirely distinct must be the nature of the principles through whose application matter has been enabled to become the working agent of abstract mental operations in each of these engines respectively; and it affords an equally obvious presumption, that in the case of the Analytical Engine, not only are those principles in themselves of a higher and more comprehensive description, but also such as must vastly extend the practical value of the engine whose basis they constitute.