Marie Sophie Germain, Paris, France 1776-1831 (Age 55)


Marie-Sophie Germain was the middle daughter of Ambroise-François, a prosperous silk-merchant.

At the age of thirteen, Sophie read an account of the death of Archimedes at the hands of a Roman soldier. She was moved by this story and decided that she too must become a mathematician. Sophie pursued her studies, teaching herself Latin and Greek. She read Newton and Euler at night while wrapped in blankets as her parents slept - they had taken away her fire, her light and her clothes in an attempt to force her away from her books. Eventually her parents lessened their opposition to her studies, and although Germain neither married nor obtained a professional position, her father supported her financially throughout her life.

Among her work done… is work on Fermat's Last Theorem and a theorem which has become known as Germain's Theorem. This was to remain the most important result related to Fermat's Last Theorem from 1738 until the contributions of Kummer in 1840.


Germain continued to work in mathematics and philosophy until her death. Before her death, she outlined a philosophical essay which was published posthumously as Considérations générale sur l'état des sciences et des lettres in the Oeuvres philosophiques. Her paper was highly praised by August Comte. She was stricken with breast cancer in 1829 but, undeterred by that and the fighting of the 1830 revolution, she completed papers on number theory and on the curvature of surfaces (1831).


Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace , London, England,1815 – 1852 (Age37)



Augusta Ada Byron's father was the famous poet Lord George Gordon Byron and her mother was Anne Isabelle Milbanke. Ada's parents married on 2 January 1815 but separated on 16 January 1816, a month after she was born. On 25 April 1816 Lord Byron went abroad and Ada never saw her father again.

Lady Byron had been interested in the study of mathematics herself. Lord Byron, before his marriage, had called his future wife "the Princess of Parallelograms"

Lady Byron ignored the family concerns and kept a constant pressure on her daughter to work hard and long at her lessons. Some rewards were offered but pressure was usually applied by giving Ada punishments like solitary confinement, making her lie motionless, and demanding that she write apologies.


Ada King became Countess of Lovelace when her husband William King, whom she married on 8 July 1835, was created an Earl in 1838. They had three children; Byron born 12 May 1836, Annabella born 22 September 1837 and Ralph Gordon born 2 July 1839. It was after this, in 1841, that Lovelace began advanced study in mathematics which was provided by De Morgan.

Ada Lovelace described how the Analytical Engine could be programmed and gave what many consider to be the first ever computer program.

Lovelace flirted with several of her male acquaintances and there were several scandals. Her husband made sure that over 100 of her letters to such friends were destroyed.

At one point she considered writing a scientific study of the effects of opium and wine gained from her own experiences. Gambling on horses was another passion in these years and she pawned some of her jewels to finance it. She owed pounds2000 in gambling debts when she died.

In 1852, when only 37 years of age, Ada died of cancer.


Emmy Amalie Noether, Erlangen, Germany 1882-1935 (Age 53)



Emmy Noether's father Max Noether was a distinguished mathematician and a professor at Erlangen. Her mother was Ida Kaufmann, from a wealthy Cologne family. Both Emmy's parents were of Jewish origin and Emmy was the eldest of their four children, the three younger children being boys.

Noether's reputation grew quickly as her publications appeared. In 1908 she was elected to the Circolo Matematico di Palermo. In 1913 she lectured in Vienna.

Emmy Noether's first piece of work when she arrived in Göttingen in 1915 is a result in theoretical physics sometimes referred to as Noether's Theorem, which proves a relationship between symmetries in physics and conservation principles.

It was her work in the theory of invariants which led to formulations for several concepts of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

In 1933 her mathematical achievements counted for nothing when the Nazis caused her dismissal from the University of Göttingen because she was Jewish. She accepted a visiting professorship at Bryn Mawr College in the USA and also lectured at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton in the USA.


Grace Brewster Murray Hopper, New York, USA 1906 – 1992 (Age86)


Grace Hopper was born Grace Brewster Murray, the oldest of three children. Her father, Walter Murray, was an insurance broker while her mother, Mary Van Horne, had a love of mathematics which she passed on to her daughter.

She studied mathematics and physics at Vassar College graduating with a BA in 1928. After graduating she undertook research in mathematics at Yale University.

In 1930 Grace Murray married Vincent Foster Hopper, an English teacher from New York University.

In 1931 she began teaching mathematics at Vassar College as an instructor in the Department of Mathematics and she continued on the staff there until 1943, having been promoted by that time to an associate professorship. Hopper was awarded her doctorate by Yale University in 1934 for a thesis New Types of Irreducibility Criteria which was supervised by Oystein Ore.

Hopper wanted to join the military as soon as the United States entered World War II and, despite being told that she could serve her country best by remaining in her teaching post at Vassar College, she eventually persuaded the Naval Reserve to accept her in 1943 and she also persuaded Vassar College to grant her leave.

From 1944 she worked with Aiken on the Harvard Mark I computer Hopper became the third person to program the Mark I.

She continued to work on the Mark II, then later on the Mark III computer.

In 1949 Hopper joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a Senior Mathematician and there she worked with John Eckert and John Mauchly on the UNIVAC computer. She designed an improved compiler while working for the company and was part of the team which developed Flow-Matic, the first English-language data-processing compiler.

In 1951... she discovered the first computer "bug." It was a real moth, which she pasted into the UNIVAC I logbook

She was a consultant and lecturer for the United States Naval Reserve up to her retirement in December 1966, by which time she had reached the rank of Commander.

When Hopper retired from the Navy in August 1986, at 80 years of age, she was the oldest active duty officer in the United States. She had reached the rank of Rear Admiral, being promoted to the rank of Commodore in a White House ceremony in December 1983, then becoming Rear Admiral Hopper in 1985. At a celebration held in Boston on the USS Constitution to celebrate her retirement, Hopper was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award possible by the Department of Defense.

Remarkably, she was appointed a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation after retiring from the Navy, a position she held until 1990.

In 1991 President George Bush awarded Hopper the National Medal of Technology. She was [3]:-

... the first woman to receive America's highest technology award as an individual. The award recognises her as a computer pioneer, who spent a half century helping keep America on the leading edge of high technology.