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The Woman Mathematician Hypatia

Date: 11/7/95 at 9:0:27
From: Anonymous
Subject: Hypatia

Hi, this is an 8th grade student that is from Oshkosh, WI.  We 
were trying to find information on a mathematition named Hypatia.  
Were stuck.  We can't find any info.  Help us, please!

Beth Leisses
Perry Tipler Middle School

Date: 11/7/95 at 10:1:6
From: Doctor Sarah
Subject: Re: Hypatia

Hi there -

If you have access to a Web browser, you can find out a lot about 
math history from the Internet Resource Collection of the
Geometry Forum:   

There's a picture of Hypatia at   

where it says:

First woman mathematician about whom there is historical evidence.  
Learned mathematics from her father, Theon of Alexandria.  Greatly 
regarded as a teacher and a scholar of mathematics and philosophy.  
Edited works of geometry, algebra, and astronomy.  Brutally 
murdered by a Christian mob. 

Source: Grinstein and Campbell. Women of Mathematics
Michael Deakin. "Hypatia and Her Mathematics," American Math. 
Monthly, March 1994. 

Here's something from the History of Mathematics - MacTutor 
Archive (St. Andrews) Web site at   

370 - 415
Born Alexandria, Egypt. Died Alexandria, Egypt.

Hypatia was the first woman to make a substantial contribution 
to the development of mathematics.

Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician and philosopher 
Theon.  She became head of the Platonist school at Alexandria.  
She came to symbolize learning and science which the early 
Christians identified with paganism.  She became the focal point 
of riots between Christians and non-Christians. 

In 412 Cyril (later St. Cyril) became patriarch of Alexandria.  A 
few years later, according to one report, Hypatia was brutally 
murdered by the Nitrian monks who were a fanatical sect of 
Christians who were supporters of Cyril.  According to another 
account (by Socrates Scholasticus) she was killed by an 
Alexandrian mob under the leadership of the leader Peter.

Hypatia wrote commentaries on Diophantus' Arithmetica , on 
Apollonius' Conics and on Ptolemy's astronomical works.  All 
Hypatia's work is lost except for its titles and some references 
to it.  However no purely philosophical work is known, only work 
in mathematics and astronomy. 

Some letters of Synesius to Hypatia exist.  These ask her advice 
on the construction of an astrolabe and a hydroscope.

More information is contained in: Michael Deakin. Hypatia and Her
Mathematics, American Math. Monthly, March 1994. 

-Doctor Sarah,  The Geometry Forum

Associated Topics:
Middle School History/Biography

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