KOVALEVSKIA, SOFIA

Mathematician (1850 - 1891)

She was a self-taught mathematician from Moscow, Russia. She traveled extensively and studied with some of the best mathematicians of the day. In 1870 she was denied entrance to the University of Berlin but continued to study privately. Because of her published work she succeeded in reciving a PhD from the University of Gottegen.She became the first womam to hold a professorship and membership in the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ultimately she obtained a position with the University of Stockholm.despite the following eidktorial written when she applied for the position at Stockholm:

The famous quote from Strindberg refers to her:

As decidedly as that 2+2=4, what a monstrosity is a woman who is a professor of mathematics, and how unnecessary, injurious and out of place she is.

Yet Kronecker (mathematician) said of her

the history of mathematics will speak of her as one of the rarest investigators.

More information may be found here for Sofia Kovalevskia

Her sceintific legacy consists of 9 papers: 3 of pure mathematics, 1 on celestial mechanics, 2 on the physics of crystals, and 3 on the classical mechanics of rigis body rotation. She is the first person to propse time as a complex variable. "Kovalavskaya's case" is named for her: a solution for the motion of a heavy rigid body about a fixed point. This is actually the first theoretical approach to the problem of precession. She therefore demonstrated that pure mathematics also applied to mechanical and physical problems. The Paris Academy of Sciences awareded her Borden's Prize for this work.

She also pusblished essays in the literay field -- for example an essay called "Remembrances of George Elliott" based on her visits with this writer.

She is honored by the name of a lunar crater and also a minor planet (asteroid).

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