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Sofia Kovalevskaia (1850-1891)

Sofia Kovalevskaia  (1850-1891)

Influenced by the radical movements of the 1860s in Russia, Kovalevskaia dedicated herself to becoming a mathematician and a pioneer of women's education. She began with private mathematics tutoring at home, but to continue her studies, she had to leave Russia. She was taught privately by Weierstrass, who persuaded Göttingen University to award "the most talented of my students" a doctorate in 1874 based on three of her papers. The Cauchy-Kovalevskaia Theorem, fundamental in the theory of partial differential equations, came from this thesis work. Kovalevskaia eventually obtained a professorship in Stockholm; she was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics and the first to teach mathematics at the university level in Europe. In 1888 she won the Bordin Prize of the Paris Academy of Sciences for her work on the rotation of a solid body about a fixed point.

This photo and biography was featured on MAA's Women of Mathematics poster.

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Photo taken on 1 March 2012 (© Mathematical Association of America / Flickr)

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 women's history month, women of math, stem, math, mathematics, women of mathematics, mathematical association of america, maa, sofia kovalevskaia, history

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