Remembering Sofya Kovalevskaya. Translated from the French by the author. (English) Zbl 1234.01008

Berlin: Springer (ISBN 978-0-85729-928-4/hbk; 978-0-85729-929-1/ebook). ix, 284 p. (2011).
The book under review is devoted to Sofia Kovalevskaya. She was the first woman with a university professional activity. This book gives a particular vision of her. Chapters I–III provide the reader with basic chronological facts and with some anecdotes about her. Chapters IV–VI deal with mathematics. Chapter IV is devoted to Kovalevskaya’s doctoral dissertation from 1874 presented “in absentia” to the University of Göttingen. It consisted of three memoires: on partial differential equations, on abelian integrals and on the Saturn rings. The scientific work of Kovalevskaya was devoted also to the refraction of light, to the study of a rigid body and to a theorem of Bruns. Chapter V of the book under review is devoted to her study of “the solid”, and in Chapter VI a letter of her that contains mathematics related to the problem of the solid is discussed. Chapters VII–IX are devoted to stories in which it is told how Kovalevskaya obtained her various positions in Stockholm, the award of the Bordin prize and about – what the author calls – Kovalevskaya’s misfortunes. In Chapter VIII a letter of Kovalevskaya to Vollmar is discussed. Bell’s text about Kovalevskaya from his book “Men of Mathematics” is considered in Chapter X. And in Chapter XI Klein’s opinion about her can be found. Note that remarks of Bell and Klein led to the opinion that Kovalevskaya did not have the reputation that she deserved. The last Chapter XII tells about the author’s encounters with Kovalevskaya.
The book provides a picture of Sofia Kovalevskaya that stresses the unity of different aspects of her personality. It has been published in a very nice way, it contains a lot of illustrations and photos. It will be an interesting source of information about Kovalevskaya, even more interesting because it contains the author’s personal view of her.


01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies
01-01 Introductory exposition (textbooks, tutorial papers, etc.) pertaining to history and biography
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century


Zbl 1154.01009
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