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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Math — not computer science — was Grace Hopper’s first language | Science & Technology - Yale News

Kendall Teare, Assistant Communications Officer at Yale University summarizes, For her pioneering work in computer science, Grace Murray Hopper ’30 M.A., ’34 Ph.D. has been dubbed the “queen of code” by her biographers.  

Yet, beneath that crown was the brain of a mathematician, according to an article in Notices of the American Mathematical Society (PDF) by Gibbs Assistant Professor of Mathematics Asher Auel that makes the details of Hopper’s doctoral training in mathematics public for the first time.

Hopper standing behind a car parked near Cruft Lab, Harvard University, ca. 1945–1947, where she worked on the Mark I computer. 
Photo: courtesy of Grace Murray Hopper Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

In some sense, you could think of mathematics as the liberal arts of the sciences,” said Auel. “It is the language that you will be using in all scientific disciplines. It’s a way of knowing, a way of thinking, a way of understanding truth.” Studying math is studying problem solving — the necessary skill for anyone who wants to be able to approach a future problem that doesn’t exist now, he explained — for example, building the first computer...

Adams has invited Auel to discuss his paper on Hopper’s lesser-known “mathematical origins” at a college tea in the Hopper Head of College House (189 Elm St.) on Wed., April 3 at 4 p.m. This event is free and open to the Yale community...

Pioneering Women in Mathematics: 
The Pre-1940 Ph.D.’s.”, 
and supplementary material 
on the 228 mathematicians profiled.
Prior to Auel, the only scholars who’d examined the particulars of Hopper’s mathematical training were Judy Green ’66 M.A. and Jeanne LaDuke, two mathematicians who co-authored a comprehensive math history book, Pioneering Women in Mathematics: The Pre-1940 Ph.D.’s.”, and supplementary material on the 228 mathematicians profiled. According to Green and LaDuke’s count, Hopper was actually the twelfth woman to receive a math Ph.D. from Yale. The first was Charlotte Barnum in 1895 for a dissertation on “functions having lines or surfaces of discontinuity.”

In 2019-2020, Yale will celebrate the achievements of its trailblazing female scholars like Barnum and Hopper while marking the 150th anniversary of women in Yale’s graduate and professional programs and the 50th anniversary of women in Yale College. 
For more information about this upcoming dual anniversary, visit the Celebrating Women at Yale website

Source: Yale News