Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekly #6- Historical Women in Mathematics: History of Math

Historical Women in Mathematics
During the course of the semester we discussed many important mathematicians most of which are men. We need to understand that there were also many women mathematicians in the past who tried to publish and share their work. Women in the past have not always been treated as equals to men, it is important to remember this when we talk about these four women in particular. From early history there are multiple women whose work has helped the mathematical community grow. Four women in particular: Hypatia, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Emmy Nother, and Sonya (Sophia) Kovalevsky have all influenced the history of mathematics.

Hypatia (AD 350 - 415)
Hypatia is considered the first women in Mathematics. She was an Egyptian Mathematician and a female scholar from ancient Alexandria. Hypatia taught on the philosophy of Neoplatoism. Her work was shown in the book On the Conics of Aollonius. This book is about different cones that are divided into different planes. Hypatia work on this book made the ideas: hyperbola, parabola, and ellipses more understandable.


Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718 - 1799) 
Maria Gaetana Agnesi's most important work is the Analytical Institutions, this book worked through differentiation and integrals within calculus. This book was published in 1748. This book was used as a textbook and became very popular. Maria is best known for the "Witch of Agnesi", which is a curve that she defined "in the form y = a*sqrt(a*x-x*x)/x because she considered the x-axis to be the vertical axis and the y-axis to be the horizontal axis. Reference frames today use x horizontal and y vertical, so the modern form of the curve is given by the Cartesian equation yx2=a2(a-y) or y = a3/(x2 + a2). It is a versed sine curve, originally studied by Fermat." Shown below is the "Witch of Agnesi" curve.

Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935)
Emmy Noether is known as the most "significant" and "creative" female of all times based on Albert Einstein's perspective. Emmy created a theorem that combined symmetry in nature with the universal laws of conservation. Sometimes Emmy published ground breaking papers under a male name. Emmy also discovered how time and energy relate to one another. "Emmy Noether's work in the 1920s on ring theory and ideals was foundational in abstract algebra."

Sonya (Sophia) Kovalevsky (1850 - 1891)
Sonya, also known as Sophia, Kovalevsky was the first women to graduate and received a doctorate from Gottingen, which was a modern university in 1874. She entered a paper in a competition in 1888, "on the Rotation of a Solid Body", and won prize money from the competition. She published multiple papers within mathematics and in the mathematical aspect of physics. "Many of these scientific papers were ground-breaking theories or the impetus for future discoveries. There is no question that Sofia Krukovsky Kovalevskaya was an incredible person."    

In conclusion it is important to remember that in the past women’s ideas were not always accepted because women’s lower status. These four women, mentioned above, should be role models to all female mathematicians because these women stepped forward to show their mathematical abilities. I think of these women in early mathematics as role models. It is important to remember that things will not always go in the planned route, what is important is that these women stepped above and beyond to make their work known. I think it is important in anyone’s career to do the same and step above and beyond their comfort levels in order to become the best they can be.


1 comment:

  1. Good selection of mathematicians. Could bracket it with an intro and a summary to get at coherence and consolidation. What do these people mean to you?