Biographies -- Olga Taussky-Todd
Original Publication Date: 1996-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Software Patent Institute
Biographies -- Olga Taussky-Todd Olga Taussky-Todd, teacher, mathematician, and lifetime ";torchbearer for matrix theory,"; died on Oct. 7, 1995, in Pasadena, Calif. Her death was the consequence of a broken hip, from which she never recovered. She was 89. Early Life
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Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Biographies -- Olga Taussky-Todd
Olga Taussky-Todd, teacher, mathematician, and lifetime "torchbearer for matrix theory," died on Oct. 7, 1995, in Pasadena, Calif. Her death was the consequence of a broken hip, from which she never recovered. She was 89.
Taussky was born on Aug. 30, 1906, in Olmutz, then in the Austro Hungarian Empire and now Olomouc in the Czech Republic, the second of three sisters, all of whom followed scientific careers. In 1909 the family moved to Vienna and in the middle of World War I to Linz. At the age of 14, Taussky transferred to the Mittelschule and a year later entered its gymnasium. When her father died in 1925, the daughters had to support the family.
Vienna, Gottingen, Vienna, Bryn Mawr, England
In 1925 she began studies in mathematics at the University of Vienna with a major in chemistry, which she later dropped. Philipp Furtwangler, her adviser, suggested a thesis problem in class field theory involving p-groups, which he had solved for p = 2. She was able to solve the problem for p = 3 and to show that the case was different for every prime p.
In 1930 she received her doctoral degree, and Richard Courant invited her to Gottingen to edit David Hilbert's work on number theory. With coeditors Wilhelm Magnus and Helmut Ulm, she found errors and some false conjectures. She edited Artin's 1932 lectures and assisted Courant in his differential equation course.
In 1932 she returned to Vienna to escape the growing political tension at Gottingen. Bryn Mawr first invited her to the United States in 1933-1934, withdrew the invitation because of financial losses, then renewed it for 1934-1935. Her boss, Emmy Noether, gave weekly lectures at Princeton. Taussky went along as often as she could. She was fascinated by the work going on at Princeton in topological algebra. She did some joint work with Magnus, formerly at Gottingen, and with Nathan Jacobson.
In June 1935 she took up a three-year Yarrow Fellowship at Girton College, part of Cambridge University. In 1937, with the aid of G.H. Hardy, she obtained a teaching position at one of the women's colleges in the University of London. She taught nine one- or two-hour courses every week and graded the homework. Some of the faculty were not friendly because she was a foreigner with language difficulties, but the students were always helpful. At one of the intercollegiate seminars she met John (Jack) Todd, an Irishman who worked in analysis and had a job like hers in a different college. In her 1979 autobiography she gives the matter two sentences. "In spite of the difference of our subjects, we had definite scientific contacts and so had to confer frequently. Not much later we got married." The wedding on Sept. 29, 1938, began a marriage that lasted 57 years.