Maria Agnesi, Italian mathematician

Maria Agnesi, Italian mathematician

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Credit: HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY/NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799), Italian scholar and mathematician. Agnesi was one of 24 children born to a mathematics professor in Bologna. She was a prodigy, speaking at least six languages by age 11. Later interests included subjects such as geometry and ballistics. Encouraged by her father, she spoke at public debates. However, an illness that caused convulsions and headaches curtailed these public appearances, and she became more reclusive. She devoted herself to mathematics and, in 1748, published a widely praised book on analytical mathematics. In 1750, she was appointed professor of mathematics and philosophy at Bologna University.

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