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Maria Gaetna Agnesi
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Scientist
    (May 16, 1718-January 9, 1799)
    Born in Milan, Italy
    Eighteenth century female Italian mathematician, philosopher, and philanthropist
    First woman to be appointed a mathematics professor at a university
    First woman to write a college level mathematics textbook, 'Analytical Institutions'
    Wrote 'The Mystic Heaven' on what she called the 'marriage' of faith and reason
    Worked extensively on integral and differential calculus and on finite and infinitesimal analysis
    Received a personal letter, a gold wreath, and a gold medal from Pope Benedict XIV in honor of her work
    Pushed into public life and mathematics by her father; she quit both after his death.
    Due to a mistranslation, her most well known mathematical work came to be known as the Witch of Agnesi instead of the correct, Curve of Agnesi.
    She is largely forgotten today.
    Despite her obvious beauty; not only did she never marry, she is not known to have ever dated.
    She was royalty.
    Recognized as brilliant an incredibly young age, A'Becket and Chisholm wrote, 'Maria was recognized early on as a child prodigy; she could speak a both Italian and French at five years of age. By her eleventh birthday she had also learned Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, German and Latin.
    When she was nine years old she delivered an hour long speech to the local intellectuals of her day on the right of women to be educated. In Latin.
    After her mother died, her father remarried twice and she ended up being the oldest of 21 children including step and half-siblings all of whom she taught at home. Indeed her Analytical Institutions started out as a textbook for her younger brothers and sisters.
    She was remarkably humble.
    In addition to the Witch of Agnesi (a type of curve) an asteroid, a crater on Venus, and a 1989 musical work are named after her.
    She wanted to enter the convent and become a nun but was forbidden to do so by her father.
    After retiring from public life, she dedicated her life to the poor including turning her own home into a hospital for the poor and living in a convent.
    She died in poverty and was buried in a mass grave with 15 other people.

Credit: tom_jeffords


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