Hypatia of Alexandria
370 – 415


Hypatia was the first woman in recorded history to substantially contribute to the development of mathematics. Her father, Theon of Alexandria, was also a mathematician, and it is quite certain that she studied under him. She eventually became the head of the Platonist school at Alexandria (400 AD), where she lectured on mathematics. She has been described as a charismatic teacher.

There exists no evidence that suggests Hypatia undertook her own original mathematical research. She did, however, assist her father in writing an eleven part commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest. She also helped him in writing a new version of Elements by Euclid. In this, they set out “to remove difficulties that might be felt by learners in studying the book, as a modern editor might do in editing a classical text-book for use in schools.” In addition to helping her father, she wrote commentaries on other’s works, such as Apollonius’s Conics. She is noted for her ability as an excellent compiler, editor, and preserver of previous mathematical works.



Greenberg, Marvin J. Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries:

Development and History. 3rd ed. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company,
1993. 6-19.

Historical Topics for the Mathematics Classroom. Washington D.C.:

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1969.

http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Printonly/Thales.html (March 2005)

http://geometryalgorithms.com/history.htm (March 2005)

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