MARIA GAETANA AGNESI, ENFANT PRODIGE, MATEMATICA, PIA NOBILDONNA

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Umberto Bottazzini *
(*) Autore principale:
Umberto Bottazzini | umberto.bottazzini@unimi.it

Abstract

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799) was a prominent figure in eighteenth-century Milan. A child prodigy, and an attraction in the scientific and philosophical disputes organized in the paternal home, she was the first woman to publish a mathematical treatise, the Instituzioni analitiche ad uso della gioventù italiana (1748), a clear and systematic presentation of both Cartesian geometry and infinitesimal analysis. Among the curves studied in that work is the versiera, (witch) the cubic curve that is still associated with her name. Appointed by Pope Benedict XIV in 1750 on the chair of mathematics at the University of Bologna, she did not accept that assignment. After her father’s death in 1752, she left mathematics to devote herself entirely to pious works, and to taking care of poor and infirm women in the Pio Albergo Trivulzio, where she spent the last fifteen years of life.


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