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Maria Agnesi. Portrait of Maria Agnesi (1718- 1799), Italian mathematician and scholar. One of 24 children born to a Mathematics professor in Bologna, she proved to be a prodigy, and could speak at least six languages at the age of 11. She became interested in geometry and ballistics, amongst other things, and her father encouraged her to speak at public debates. An illness causing convulsions and headaches curtailed her public appearances, however. After this, she became more reclusive, and wrote a guide for students of mathematics in 1748. She was appointed to the chair of mathematics and philosophy at Bologna in 1750.
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