Maria Agnesi (1718-1799)

Maria Agnesi (1718-1799) was a child prodigy, who by the age of nine, wrote, read and spoke seven languages: Italian (her native language), French, Latin, Greek, German, Spanish, and Hebrew. By the age of twenty, she became a teacher to her brothers. 1795-01-19=Agnesi_PinottiniShe then started to work onmgggggg-jpg a calculus textbook which was later published in 1748. It was one of the first and most completed works covering calculus, and was widely translated into other languages as a textbook. Maria Agnesi is known as the second woman to gain a Ph.D. By this time she held a chair in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at the University of Bologna, one of Europe’s oldest universities. This appointment was made by Pope Benedict XIV, who wished to publicize the University of Bologna’s premier place once again. Maria Agnesia’s name has also been attributed for the “Witch of Agnesi,” which was one of her solutions for an algebraic equation (a curve) that is still found in today’s textbooks. This name was given because of the shape of the curve which was called aversiera, the Italian slang for avversiere, which means the wife of the devil. Through a series of incorrect translations over time, the name of the curve eventually became known as the “Witch of Agnesi.”

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