Mathematician:Hypatia of Alexandria

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No, of course she didn't look like this

Greek: Ὑπατία.

Egyptian mathematician, astronomer, scientist and philosopher. Daughter of Theon of Alexandria.

Head of Platonist school in Alexandria in c. $400$ CE.

Notable for:

Being the first woman in mathematics notable enough to have been remembered by history;
Being murdered by a mob of Christians for holding pagan beliefs.

Her death has been argued as signalling the decline of learning in the Western world, and the start of the "dark ages", from which recovery would not happen for another thousand years.

Despite the accolades, and the focus on her importance as a historical figure for the reasons above, it is not certain what (if anything) she contributed to mathematics that was original.

The problem is that because of the vilification of her that preceded her murder, all her works were destroyed, and so nobody will ever know.


Alexandrian (a city in what is now Egypt).


  • Born: between 350 and 370 CE
  • Died: March 415


Critical View

In an era in which the domains of intellect and politics were almost exclusively male, Theon was an unusually liberated person who taught an unusually gifted daughter and encouraged her to achieve things that, as far as we know, no woman before her did or perhaps even dreamed of doing.
-- Ian Mueller

Linguistic Note

While it is common to anglicise the pronunciation of her name as Hip-ay-sha, it may be more correct from examination of its Greek lettering to voice her name as Hip-a-tee-a.