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Sonya Kovalevsky

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Sofya Krukovsky Kovalevsky (also Sonya Kovalevsky) was born in Moscow in 1850 as the middle child of a family of minor nobility. She had a fine lifestyle with access to many resources. Despite this, there was a shortage of wallpaper for her nursery, and her father apparently used his old calculus notes instead. By studying these notes, she at least got a basic understanding of math. Later, when she was fourteen, Sofya taught herself trigonometry just to understand a physics book she was reading. The author of the book, Professor Tyrtov, also coincidentally her neighbor, was so impressed, he convinced her father to let her attend the Naval Academy in St. Petersburg.
She couldn’t continue her education in mathematics past the academy, though, partly because her father did not approve of it, and also because Russian universities did not accept women at that time. There were universities in other countries that accepted women, but unmarried women were not allowed to travel alone in Russia. When she was eighteen, Sofya did something that was becoming increasingly more common at that time: she married out of intellectual convenience.
In 1868, Sofya married Vladimir Kovalevsky. They only remained in St. Petersburg for a few months before moving to Heidelberg, Switzerland. Both of them attended the university there for a while, Sofya for mathematics, her husband for paleontology, before Vladimir went his own way, leaving Sofya in Heidelberg. Although she needed special permission to attend lectures, Sofya did brilliantly at the university, and had no difficulty attending whichever classes she wished.
After two years, she moved on to Berlin, hoping to learn from Karl Weierstrass, a prestigious mathematician there. However, despite her s...

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...“On the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point”, the prize money was increased from 3000 francs to 5000 francs because it was so highly regarded.
This secured her a permanent position at the University of Stockholm. She later won a prize from the university for two more papers, as well as finally getting recognition from her own country when she became the first female member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. These were the final years of her life though, and she later died from pneumonia and depression in 1891.

Works Cited

Falbo, Clemento. "Kovalevski Biography." Kovalevski Biography. Strip Publishing Company, 1 Jan. 2000. Web. 12 May 2014. .
Wilson, Becky. "Sofia Kovalevskaya." Sofia Kovalevskaya. Agnes Scott College, 1 Jan. 1995. Web. 12 May 2014. .
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