Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Babbage Sum Engine

I wish to God these calculations had been executed by steam. Charles Babagge Quoted in H. Eves In Mathematical Circles
  [vote for,

From a history website, whose URL I forgot to write down - “Babbage failed to build a complete machine despite independent wealth, social position, government funding, a decade of design and development, and the best of British engineering. The reasons are still debated and the cocktail of considerations is a rich one.”

I propose a resolution of this famous historical conundrum, and at the same time propose a working solution to Babbage’s problem. The trouble with his design, I assert, is that Babbage, while focusing on the concept of a “Difference Engine,” failed to keep in mind that he also needed a “Sum Engine.” That is, it is hard to solve all and any problem using only differences, especially when the concept of negative numbers was rather murky then to most of that culture (“Very un-British,” they would say.) The clear solution to Babbage’s vexing problem would have been to construct a Sum Engine to work in tandem with his Difference one.

sqeaketh the wheel, Sep 01 2012

Tennis Girl http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_Girl
"vaguely nsfw for the overly sensitive" [normzone, Sep 02 2012]

Difference Engine https://en.wikipedi...i/Difference_engine
Completed in 1991 according to Wikipedia. [st3f, Dec 03 2016]


       I'm guessing he just got sick of the "Hey, Babbage, that's sum engine you've got there" joke visitors kept making ,so he broke it up for parts.
not_morrison_rm, Sep 01 2012

       Babbage's, um, Engine
ytk, Sep 01 2012

       Djinn arrive.
pocmloc, Sep 01 2012

       His plan was actually to replace the Sum Engine with a trained snake, but the one he got turned out not to be an Adder …
8th of 7, Sep 01 2012

       Thing is, all you need to do to make a sum-engine, is run a difference engine backwards.   

       Likewise, if you run the prototype "Analytical Engine" backwards, and feed in a simple problem, you end up with something a great deal more complicated.
zen_tom, Sep 01 2012

       //feed in a simple problem, you end up with something a great deal more complicated.   

       That sounds remarkably like cutting down 25% on the amount of blutack needed to affix posters to a wall, by cutting off one corner of the poster....
not_morrison_rm, Sep 01 2012

       DAMN, that's smart ...
8th of 7, Sep 01 2012

       //I now have tennis girl scratching her arse in a bold wimbledony purple frame   


       I spent ages trying to convince the other people at the museum that we could get rid of all the old crap (Vermeer, Rembrandt) and get tennis girl in, and ditch all that 18th century furniture, which is just second-hand, it's not like it's new or anything, and get some Ikea stuff instead...
not_morrison_rm, Sep 02 2012

       Very nice … will go beautifully with the red flock wallpaper, and you can get a rack to put your Ronco Record Vacuum and 8-track cartridges on …
8th of 7, Sep 02 2012

       What no jersey-shaver or Betamax?
not_morrison_rm, Sep 03 2012

       Also hanging in the same gallery, the Queen "Bicycle Race" poster
hippo, Sep 04 2012

       I think Babbage should have started with something simpler, such as a machine that would just spit out any old answer at random. An indifference engine.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2016


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