Women-mathematicians in history: Maria Gaetana Agnesi


In January 2013 the Bulletin of American Mathematical Society features on its cover a picture of Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799). There is also an article about her life and contributions to mathematics by Gerald L. Alexanderson


Short summary: Maria Gaetana Agnesi was interested in theology and mathematics, and was well versed in Latin. She wrote a textbook on calculus in Italian, Instituzioni analitiche ad uso della giovantu italiana, which was published in 1748. The book was very popular, and was translated in French (translation published in 1775) and English (published in 1801). Agnesi's name is also associated with the `Witch of Agnesi' curve, although the curve was also known to other mathematicians earlier. After the publication of her book, Agnesi was awarded an honorary professorship at the University of Bologna, although she retired from mathematics by that time, and devoted the rest of her life to good works for the poor.


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