Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 3 (1843).djvu/686

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we have just named. To conceive how the machine can now go through its functions according to the laws laid down, we will begin by giving an idea of the manner in which it materially represents numbers.

Let us conceive a pile or vertical column consisting of an indefinite number of circular discs, all pierced through their centres by a common axis, around which each of them can take an independent rotatory movement. If round the edge of each of these discs are written the ten figures which constitute our numerical alphabet, we may then, by arranging a series of these figures in the same vertical line, express in this manner any number whatever. It is sufficient for this purpose that the first disc represent units, the second tens, the third hundreds, and so on. When two numbers have been thus written on two distinct columns, we may propose to combine them arithmetically with each other, and to obtain the result on a third column. In general, if we have a series of columns[1] consisting of discs, which columns we will designate as , , , , , &c., we may require, for instance, to divide the number written on the column by that on the column , and to obtain the result on the column . To effect this operation, we must impart to the machine two distinct arrangements; through the first it is prepared for executing a division, and through the second the columns it is to operate on are indicated to it, and also the column on which the result is to be represented. If this division is to be followed, for example, by the addition of two numbers taken on other columns, the two original arrangements of the machine must be simultaneously altered. If, on the contrary, a series of operations of the same nature is to be gone through, then the first of the original arrangements will remain, and the second alone must be altered. Therefore, the arrangements that may be communicated to the various parts of the machine, may be distinguished into two principal classes:

First, that relative to the Operations.

Secondly, that relative to the Variables.

By this latter we mean that which indicates the columns to be operated on. As for the operations themselves, they are executed by a special apparatus, which is designated by the name of mill, and which itself contains a certain number of columns, similar to those of the Variables. When two numbers are to be

  1. See Note B.