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5 Remarkable Female Mathematicians

Updated on August 22, 2016

Female mathematicians have played an important role in the field of mathematics since ancient times, you will find a brief profile of 5 remarkable women who have achieved notably in the development of mathematics.

1. Hypatia

Hypatia, the daughter of the well known mathematician and astronomer Theon, became the last of the early Greek mathematicians. She was also an inventor.

She lived in Alexandria in Egypt from 370 to 415 and lectured at the University of Alexandria on geometry, astronomy, simple mechanics, philosophy and algebra, attracting students from Europe, Asia and Africa.

In mathematics, her main interest was algebra where she built on the work of another Alexandrian mathematician Diophantus, a founder of modern algebra. She also wrote about conic sections.

Her inventions included an astrolabe for measuring the positions of stars and planets, apparatus for distilling water and an instrument for measuring the density of water.

2. Emy Noether

Emy Noether’s main contribution to mathematics was the formulation and development of the concept of primary ideas.

She also investigated the structure of non-commutative algebra. Nother was born in the south German university town of Erlangen on March 23, 1882. At her enrolment at the university, she was one of only two women among 1,000 students . A doctorate was awarded to her in 1907.

From 1916 to 1933 she worked at the University of Göttingen as a teacher of algebra.

Her main contribution to mathematics was the building up of an investigation of the structure of non commutative algebra.In 1933 Noether left Germany for the United States where she became a university lecturer.

She died in 14 April 1935. At the time of her death in 1935, Einstein referred to her as “The most significant creative mathematical genius produced since women gained access to higher education".

3. Sonya Kovalevskaya

Sonya Kovalevskaya was born in Russia on January 15, 1850 and died in Stockholm on February 10, 1891. She attended lectures at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and studied privately with German mathematician Weierstrass in Berlin.

Four years of work resulted in three outstanding research papers, including one of partial differential equations. They earned her a doctorate from the University of Gottingen.

In 1883 she became the first woman lecturer at the newly established University of Stockholm. Her greatest achievement was winning the Prix Bordin, awarded by the French Academy of Science for her paper “On the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point.”

Kovalevskaya worked on complex analysis and generalized the work done by Euler, Poisson and Lagrange, using hyperelliptic integrals to solve differential equations of motion.

She also wrote plays, poems, novels and an autobiography.

4. Maria Gaetana Agnesi

One of a family of 20 children, Maria Gaetana Agnesi was born on May 16, 1718 in the Italian town of Bologna where her father was Professor of Mathematics.

A highly gifted child Agnesi became fluent in several languages and while still in her teens was able to take part in abstract mathematical and philosophical discussions.

Published in 1748, Agnesi’s two volume work ‘Analytical Institutions’ on algebra and differential and integral calculus brought together material from many sources in a variety of languages. It also included methods and generalizations of her own. A model of clarity, it became a mathematics textbook in several languages.

The curve called the Witch of Agnesi is named after her. It has the equation  x 2 y =a 2( a-y).

Although she did not discover this curve, she worked with it in the analytical geometry section of her book. She devoted the second half of her long life for the sick and the poor. She died in Bologna on January 9, 1799.

5. Mary Fairfax Sommerville

Mary Fairfax Sommerville was born in Scotland on 26 December 1780 and became a popular and influential writer on science and mathematics when interest in the subjects among the general public was high.

Her first book “Mechanisms of the Heavens’ a translation and popularized account of Laplace’s’ Celestial Mechanics, became a widely-used textbook for students of higher mathematics and astronomy. Other major works were ’Connection of the Physical Sciences’ , ‘Physical Geography’ and ‘Molecular and Microscopic Science’. The last of these was published when Somerville was 89. She also wrote monographs on mathematical subjects.

Recognition of her work came in the form of a pension from the King of England and she was one of the first women elected to membership of the Royal Astronomical Society.

She died in Naples in Italy on 28 November 1872.

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      Eleanor Macapal 5 years ago

      Awesome! It is only this time that I come to know that indeed there were very intelligent women in the past who were really very good in mathematics

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      Hiramala 5 years ago

      Thanks. these informations are new for me.I need more informations about the contributions of female mathemations.

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      :D 6 years ago

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      grac anthony 6 years ago

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      rome 6 years ago

      thanks

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      sofiE 6 years ago

      More detailed info could be helpful or it may not be available as in many cases over the history women's contribution in science and art was recorded under the name of their male teacher/ instructor.

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      sl 6 years ago

      like it.=p

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      MM Del Rosario 6 years ago from NSW, Australia

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      rimla 7 years ago

      same me 2 project of mathematicians

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      Anon 7 years ago

      Doesn't show what the mathematical side to it was. I wanted to know about female mathematicians and their discoveries in maths. But I got a 10 second bio. Quite good though. ;)

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      ram_m 7 years ago from India

      very nice hub

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      Lopamudra 8 years ago

      its really nice to see the names of female mathematicians.

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      Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Impressive. I had no idea. Thanks so much!

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      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Interesting that women were involved in Mathematics that far back in time. Very good hub. Thank you!