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Professor pens history of computer science

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Dr. Subrata Dasgupta, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is a computer scientist and historian who studies creativity. In his most recent book, It Began with Babbage: The Genesis of Computer Science, he tells the story of how the modern discipline came to be.

Paul Rosenbloom, a professor of computer science at the University of Southern California, reviewed the book and is quoted on its dust jacket. "It Began with Babbage provides a wealth of background on the early history of computer — its people, ideas and systems ... . It both explores the relationships that drove this history and explains in an admirably accessible style the key ideas that enabled it."

The book, published by Oxford University Press, begins in the early 19th century, when inventor Charles Babbage designed his “difference engine,” a mechanical calculator.

Babbage, who was also a mathematician, philosopher and mechanical engineer, was the first of many creative thinkers who contributed to the "science of the artificial," according to the Oxford University Press website.

Those pioneers include Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Claude Shannon and Noam Chomsky. Dasgupta's history concludes in 1969. By then, computer science had been established as an academic discipline.

Dasgupta is a professor of computer science and informatics and a professor of history at UL Lafayette. He holds the Computer Science Trust Fund Eminent Scholar Chair in the School of Computing and Informatics. He is the author of 14 books, which include a novel and a memoir.