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Sophie Germain Biography

18 November, 2019

Full name: Marie-Sophie Germain.

Birth: April 1, 1776, Paris (France)

Nationality: French

Death: June 27, 1831, 55, Paris, France. 

He is a French mathematician who has made important contributions to the theory of numbers and the theory of elasticity. One of the most important was the study of those who were subsequently named among Sophie Germain’s prime numbers. These are prime numbers whose double increase of one unit is also a prime number.

He was born into a bourgeois family in Paris and began studying mathematics at the age of thirteen. 

Self-taught, he disguised himself as a man so he could study in mathematicians’ places, where they let only men enter. 

In his research and studies, he signed them under the name of “Mr. Leblanc”, to hide his identity. 

His interest in mathematics was so great that he did everything to demonstrate it to others.

He was educated in his father’s library and wrote with famous mathematicians such as Lagrange, Legendre and Gauss. 

One of the pioneers of the theory of elasticity, he won the grand prize of the Paris Academy of Sciences for his essay on the subject. His work on Fermat’s last theorem laid the foundation for mathematicians who explored the subject many years later. 

Throughout his life he worked independently, and six years after his death, the University of Göttingen awarded him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of mathematics. 

At the centenary of his life, a street and a girls’ school bear his name. 

The Academy of Sciences has established the Grand Prix Sophie Germain in his honor.    

In 1829, Germain learned that he had breast cancer. Despite the pain, he continued to work. On June 27, 1831, he died at his home at 13 rue de Savoie. 

Despite the intellectual exploits of Germain, her death certificate declares her “Rentière”, that is to say, rentier or owner, she is not “mathematician”.

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