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The "Witch" of Agnesi
Transcript of The "Witch" of Agnesi
By: Maddie Portteus
She was born on May 16th, 1718 in Milan, Italy. Then died on January 9th, 1799.
First Italian woman mathematician and philosopher.
She was the oldest of 21 siblings, her parents were Pierto Agnesi and Anna Fortundo Brivio.
Maria's Life Facts
Her mother had died at a very young age so she was stuck taking care of her siblings, one of the reasons why she never got married.
Her Father recognized her as a child of prodigy and made sure she had the top tutors and she had always known many languages.
Though this did not stop Maria from her work in mathematics in 1738 she published some of her first articles on natural science and philosophy called Propositiones Philosophicae which she gathered information at her Fathers home.
At the age of 20 Maria started her most important work Analytical Institutions that included differential and integral calculus. It is said she started this text for her brothers but grew into something more serious. It was then published in 1748, the book became a sensation to mathematicians.
Maria then got the nickname "The witch of Agnesi" from one of her famous curves that she illustrated. It was originally called vertere a Latan word meaning "to turn" but it was also an abbreviation for the Italian word avversiera which meant 'the wife of the devil' but when translated to English people confused it with the word 'witch'
Maria's views & contributions
She's known as the curve called "The Witch of Agnesi"
The equation for this was y = a*sqrt(a*x-x*x)/x .
She considered the x-axis to be the vertical line and y-axis to be horizontal line.
After the success of her books, Maria was elected to the Bologna Academy of Sciences.
But after the death of her Father in 1752, Maria stopped any further work in mathematics because her Father was her only inspiration for the interest in mathematics.
Though since the death of her Father she then spent most of her time helping the poor and homeless sick people. When a spot was open for the head director of the Pio Instituto Trivulzo a place for the ill and weak women she took it helping them until her own death.
What I Learned
When studying Maria Agnesi I learned that though she first got involved in math because of her Father, she played several contributions to the mathematics field. For example The Witch of Angesi curve teaches us infinities and symmetry. Though we won't use The Witch of Angesi curve in geometry, you will most likely use it in calculus. Overall i think Maria was a person many people should look up too considering she only got into mathematics because of her father urging her to and for being one of the very few woman mathematicians to be successful during this time period.
"Maria Agnesi." ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA. 1. 1999.
Maria Agnesi. donnettaallen , 2012. Film. 18 Dec 2013. <
Riddle, Larry. "Maria Gaetana Agnesi." Biographies of Women Mathematicians. N.p., 19 Aug 2013. Web. 18 Dec 2013. <http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/agnesi.htm>.