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A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi

A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Book cover, first edition
AuthorAntonella Cupillari
LanguageEnglish
PublisherEdwin Mellen Press
Publication date
28 April 2008
ISBN978-0773452268

A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician: With Translations of Some of Her Work from Italian into English is a biography of Italian mathematician and philosopher Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718–1799). It was written and translated by Antonella Cupillari, with a foreword by Patricia R. Allaire, and published in 2008 by the Edwin Mellen Press.

Topics

The main part of the book, over 100 pages, is a translation into English of an Italian-language biography of Agnesi, Elogio storico di Donna Maria Gaetana Agnesi, which was written in the year of her death by historian Antonio Francesco Frisi and republished in 1965.[1] It covers the cultural background that allowed her to become a mathematician, and her brief mathematical career from her teens to her thirties, as well as her work caring for the needy in the remaining fifty years of her life.[2]

Frisi was a family friend of Agnesi. He was the first to write a biography about her. To balance this material with a more objective view of Agnesi,[2] Cupillari has added over 50 pages of notes,[1] derived from two more Italian-language biographies of Agnesi, Maria Gaetana Àgnesi (Luisa Anzoletti, 1900) and Maria Gaetana Agnesi (Giovanna Tilche, 1984).[3] Another large section includes translations and explanations of excerpts from Agnesi's mathematical textbook, Institutioni Analitiche (1748),[1][3] which was "the first textbook to provide a unified treatment of algebra, Cartesian geometry and calculus", and by being written in vernacular Italian rather than Latin was aimed at a wider audience than the educated scholars of her day.[2] Cupillari concludes her biography with a bibliography of material about Agnesi.[1]

Audience and reception

Reviewers Luigi Pepe and Franka Bruckler recommend the book as a "useful introduction" and "unique, comprehensive source" on Agnesi and her work, particularly for people who read English but not Italian.[1][3] Bruckler includes among its potential readers historians of mathematics, mathematics educators, and members of the public.[3] Reviewer Edith Mendez describes the book as "an easy read", and its mathematics as accessible to undergraduate mathematics students,[4] but this is contradicted by Peter Ruane, who found the "fragmented" and "eulogistic" first part difficult to follow and to stomach.[2] Mendez also criticizes the book for being inadequately copyedited,[4] and Ruane suggests that the book would have been improved by more context of what was happening in mathematics in Europe at the time.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Pepe, Luigi (2011), "Review of A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician", MathSciNet, MR 2675954
  2. ^ a b c d e Ruane, P. N. (January 2009), "Review of A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician", MAA Reviews
  3. ^ a b c d Bruckler, Franka Miriam, "Review of A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician", zbMATH, Zbl 1228.01037
  4. ^ a b Mendez, Edith Prentice (June 2008), "Review of A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician", Convergence
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A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi
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