Sofia Kovalevskaya: the woman who covered the walls of her room in theorems

When she was eleven years old, Sofia (sometimes called Sonja) Kovalevskaya covered the walls of her room in note sheets about differential and integral calculus by the Russian mathematician Mikhail Ostrogradski. These notes were from her father’s university years. This was how Sofia became familiar with calculus. Her first introduction to calculus was by the hand of her uncle Pyotr Krukovsky. He taught her the basics until she developed such a fascination with mathematics that she described it as “a mysterious science which opens up to its initiates a new world of wonders, inaccessible to ordinary mortals.”

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