The "Witch."

The first surviving
mathematical work
written by a woman.

The corner of
Via Agnesi in Milan.


Contents . . . .

Sequence of Events
Grandi's and Fermat's Earlier Work
The Instituzioni analitiche
Significance of the 1775 Translation
History of the Name "Witch"
John Playfair's Review 1804

Interesting Mathematics

Derivation of the Curve: Equations
Graphing Calculator Program
Interactive Math Concepts in the "Witch"

Vignettes from Her Life

Early Family Life
Did She Become a Nun?
Tributes and Honors
Streets Named for Agnesi
Her Advice to Future Students

This site is a collection of Agnesi miscellany built upon many exciting hours spent in some of the greatest libraries in the English speaking world.  We highly recommend that you pause to look at the Bibliography and Acknowledgments web sites to appreciate our far flung efforts to provide students with a tantalizing smattering of the strength of resources in mathematics.

The opportunity to see as well as to know is the gift of our generation.  Easy foreign travel is also another gift.  May your local classroom education provide you with the background to fully appreciate the original sources you see in the future, be it those of mathematics, architecture, art, or any of the other rich treasures of civilization. 

 In a fleeting moment we would like to have the vanity to call this web site A Complete Maria Gaetana Agnesi, providing both mathematics and history. Realistically, we know that we will have to continue to fill in the on-site links listed above with other textual and graphical materials.     In addition, there are some off-site links to basic information which are certain to change.

We especially hope that the Italian government or the Vatican State would issue a stamp honoring Agnesi.  She did, in fact, have a Mother Teresa quality to her later life, but as a young woman she was devoted to learning mathematics.  We honor the first woman to publish a surviving work in mathematics.

Other Web Sites:
History of Mathematics at the
University of St. Andrews (St. Andrews, Scotland)

This site is maintained by

Dr. Shirley B. Gray
Dept. of Mathematics and CS
California State University, Los Angeles
Tel....... (323) 343 - 2163
Fax...... (323) 343 - 5071

[Site established January 1, 2001]

There is NO Italian or Vatican postage stamp honoring Agnesi.

The 1775 French translation.

Euler was a contemporary.

  In 2018 we remembered . . . .

Maria Gaetana Agnesi is recognized as a leader in mathematics, women's studies, education and charitable living. While rare, several copies of her treasured 1748 two-volume calculus Instituzionianalitichie... can be found in scholarly libraries throughout the United States and Europe. Significantly, in recognition of her being an "outstanding mathematician and impassioned Catholic," His Holiness Pope Francis has chosen to honor her on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of her birth, May 16, 1718, with a commemorative stamp.  The Italiann government has similarly chosen to honor this truly remarkable woman.

Gray, S., Book Review of Massimo Mazzotti's The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God,  The College Mathematics Journali, VOL. 49, NO. 3, May 2018, 229-232.