Emmy Noether

I rarely pay tribute to people, but this will be an exception.

I first came to know about Emmy Noether back in 2009 when, like many others at my level in formal education, I became very interested in physics. (Although as time went by I soon realised that mathematics, more precisely pure mathematics, was in fact where the “complete picture” lay; but that’s a different story.) I was trying to solve a problem using conservation of energy. Eventually I stumbled upon her wikipedia page from articles on conservation laws (cf. Noether’s theorem).

Later on, in my second undergraduate year I learned about rings and modules, when the term “noetherian” came up. It was merely a brief introduction. Recently I took an introductory course on commutative algebra, and her name was so ubiquitous throughout the course that there probably wasn’t a single lecture in which she wasn’t referred to. So I grew an urge to know more about her. As I read more and more about her I developed an immense respect toward this woman.

Some quotes by famous mathematicians about Noether: (excerpted from wikipedia)

  • “Absolute beyond comparison.” – Van der Waerden, regarding her mathematical abilities
  • “Changed the face of algebra by her work.” – Weyl
  • “Revolutionary.” – Kaplansky, regarding her idea of the ascending chain condition
  • “The greatest woman mathematician of all time.” – Alexandrov
  • “The development of abstract algebra, which is one of the most distinctive innovations of twentieth century mathematics, is largely due to her – in published papers, in lectures, and in personal influence on her contemporaries.” – Jacobson
  • “Miss Noether is… the greatest woman mathematician who has ever lived; and the greatest woman scientist of any sort now living, and a scholar at least on the plane of Madame Curie.” – Norbert Wiener

If you love to read and have some time, I suggest going through her wikipedia page. It’s such a powerful story that I believe you won’t want to stop until you’ve read the entire article.

A belated happy birthday, Emmy Noether!


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