Agnesi

Maria Gaëtana Agnesi


Born: 16 May 1718 in Milan, Habsburg Empire (now Italy)
Died: 9 Jan 1799 in Milan, Habsburg Empire (now Italy)

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Maria Agnesi is noted for her work in differential calculus.
Agnesi mastered many languages such as Latin, Greek and Hebrew at an early age. At the age of 9 she published a Latin discourse in defence of higher education for women.

In 1738 she published Propositiones Philosophicae a series of essays on philosophy and natural science.

She is noted for her work in differential calculus. The text Instituzioni analitiche ad uso della gioventĚ italiana includes a discussion of the cubic curve now know as the 'witch of Agnesi'. The word 'witch' is in fact a mistranslation of 'versiera' which can mean both 'curve' or 'witch'. The paper was dedicated to the empress Maria Theresa.

A commentary by Agnesi on de L'Hôpital's Traite analytique des section coniques was never published.

She occupied for a time (1750) the chair of mathematics in the University of Bologna thus becoming the first woman to occupy a chair of mathematics. The chair had been previously held by her father Pietro Agnesi.

After the death of her father in 1752 she devoted herself to charitable work. In 1771 she became director of Pio Albergo Trivulzio which is a charitable trust.

References (13 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

Show me the Witch of Agnesi

There is a Crater Agnesi on Venus. You can see a list of planetary features named after mathematicians.

Other Web sites:

Agnes Scott College, USA
Clarke University, USA


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JOC/EFR December 1996