Born on 16 May 1718 in Milan, Maria Gaetana Agnesi was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. Her contributions to mathematics are very important. She was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a Mathematics Professor at a university.
She was the oldest of the 21 children and “was recognized as a child prodigy very early; spoke French by the age of five; and had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and several modern languages by the age of nine. At her teens, Maria mastered mathematics”
The “witch of Agnesi” is a curve studied by Maria Agnesi in 1748 in her book Instituzioni analitiche ad uso della gioventù italiana. This is the first surviving mathematical work written by a woman.
She died on 9 January 1799.
Discover more about Women in Mathematics
Women in Mathematics offers a history from the 6th century BC of women’s contribution to mathematics. The eight biographies of woman mathematicians, by Lynn M. Osen, chart the growth of mathematics and provide a new approach to the history of mathematics.