Olga Taussky-Todd

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Olga Taussky-Todd
Olga Taussky-Todd.jpeg
Born (1906-08-30)August 30, 1906
Olomouc, then Austria-Hungary
Died October 7, 1995(1995-10-07) (aged 89)
Pasadena, California
Ethnicity Czech-American
Alma mater Doctorate, University of Vienna supervised by Philipp Furtwängler
Employer National Physical Laboratory, University of London, National Bureau of Standards, California Institute of Technology
Organization Vienna Circle
Known for Torchbearer for matrix theory; supervised CalTech's first female Ph.D. in Math, Lorraine Foster; corrected David Hilbert's papers
Spouse(s) John Todd
Parents Julius David Taussky, Ida Pollach
Awards Fellow of Girton College, Bryn Mawr College, and the AAAS, a Noether Lecturer and a recipient of the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class

Olga Taussky-Todd (August 30, 1906, Olomouc, Moravia – October 7, 1995, Pasadena, California) was an Austrian and later Czech-American mathematician.[1][2]

Olga Taussky was born into a Jewish family; her father, Julius David Taussky, was an industrial chemist and her mother, Ida Pollach, was a housewife. She worked first in algebraic number theory, with a doctorate at the University of Vienna supervised by Philipp Furtwängler.[3] During that time in Vienna she also attended the meetings of the Vienna Circle.

According to Gian-Carlo Rota, as a young mathematician she was hired by a group of German mathematicians to find and correct the many mathematical errors in the works of David Hilbert, so that they could be collected into a volume to be presented to him on his birthday. There was only one paper, on the continuum hypothesis, that she was unable to repair.[4]

Later, she started to use matrices to analyze vibrations of airplanes during World War II, at the National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom. She became the torchbearer for matrix theory. In 1935, she moved to England and became a Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge University, as well as at Bryn Mawr College. In 1938 she married the British mathematician John Todd (1911-2007), a colleague at the University of London.

In 1945 the Todds emigrated to the United States and worked for the National Bureau of Standards. In 1957 they joined the faculty of California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California.

She was a Fellow of the AAAS, a Noether Lecturer and a recipient of the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (1978). She also supervised CalTech's first female Ph.D. in Math, Lorraine Foster.

Selected works[edit]

  • How I became a torchbearer for matrix theory, American Mathematical Monthly. v. 95, 1988
  • Sums of squares, American Mathematical Monthly. v. 77, 1970
  • A recurring theorem on determinants, American Mathematical Monthly. v. 56, 1949

References[edit]

External links[edit]