Google honours Italian 'child prodigy'

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Italian mathematician and philosopher Maria Gaetana Agnesi has been honoured with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 296th birthday. Photo: Wikipedia
14:06 CEST+02:00
The world's biggest search engine has paid tribute to Italian mathematician and philosopher Maria Gaetana Agnesi to mark the 296th anniversary since her birth.

Agnesi, born to a wealthy Milan family on May 16th 1718, was the first woman in the West to be recognized as a mathematician and the second to ever be given a professorship at a university.

A “child prodigy”, she wrote her first book at the age of nine. She was also referred to as the “Seven Tongue Orator” for speaking Italian, French, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, German and Latin by aged 11.

Friday’s Google Doodle features a picture of Agnesi with the “witch of Agnesi”, a curve studied by Agnesi in her first book.

Agnesi became a maths professor at the University of Bologna, where she was praised for her work by many, including Pope Benedict XIV, who wrote her a complimentary letter.

Her father, Pietro Agnesi, also professor at the University of Bologna, married twice after her mother’s death, leaving Agnesi the eldest of 23 siblings.

Later in life, Agnesi established a home for the sick and poor, and in 1783 she founded a home for the elderly, where she lived as the nuns of the institution did.

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By the time she died in 1799, aged 80, she had given away all she owned, and was given a poor person’s burial.

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