Sophie Germain was a French mathematician who did important work in number theory and differential equations. She is best known for her work on Fermat’s Last Theorem, where she gave a simple criterion that suffices to show that the equation a^{p}+b^{p}=c^{p} has no solutions with abc not divisible by p. She also did work on acoustics and elasticity, especially the theory of vibrating plates. As a mathematics student, she was forced to take correspondence courses from the Ecore Polytechnique in Paris, since they did not accept women as students. For a similar reason, she began her extensive correspondence with Gauss using the pseudonym Monsieur Le Blanc, but when she eventually revealed her identity, Gauss was delighted and sufficiently impressed with her work to recommend her for an honorary degree at University of Gottingen.

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Nalin Pithwa