Mathematics mulan | Sophie Germain
数学花木兰 | 索菲·热尔曼

Happy childhood


Germain was born in a wealthy merchant family. When she was young, the social environment in France was not very good, and the society order was chaotic. In order to protect her, her parents made her stay at home to study.

Little Germain read all kinds of interesting books in his father’s study. The fascination of mathematics began to attract the child, especially when she read about the death of Archimedes, who would be killed by soldiers, and was still fascinated by the fun of studying mathematics, she was deeply shocked.

She began to stay up all night for learning maths. But her parents took away her candles and put out her fire due to thinking of her health. Little Germain did not give up. She stole candles, wrapped herself in a quilt, and studied mathematics quietly. As a result, her parents made a concession and supported her to continue her studies.

Go to university


In 1794, a famous university was founded in Paris —— The University of Science and Technology, there were many mathematical masters, such as Laplace and Lagrange. Little Germain grew up to be a big girl of eighteen. When she heard about the university, she was eager to go there.

Although there had been five years since the French Revolution happened, the prejudice against women had never been completely eliminated. The University of Science and Technology accepted only male students, perhaps those leaders thought women could not work in mathematics. In short, Germain was kept out of the door.

The secular prejudices did not dissuade Germain from studying mathematics. She was determined to change people’s perceptions. Germain got course notes from the nearby Ecole Polytechnique in the name of a leaver, “Monsieur Antoine-Auguste LeBlanc”. Unaware that Mr. Leblanc had left the school, school administrators continued to print handouts and problem sets for her. Germain also handed in his homework under Mr. Leblanc’s name.

After comparing the mathematical works of Euler, Gauss, and Lagrange, Germain concluded that Lagrange’s work was easy to understand, it’s fun and suitable for self-study. Soon she felt the urge to write a paper, and wanted to record her learning experience for Lagrange to read himself! Before long, a mysterious “Mr. Brown” sent the papers to Lagrange.

Lagrange read the letters and was so impressed by the talent displayed by this mysterious young man, then he decided to visit the young man himself. After the meeting, Lagrange learned that “Monsieur Brown” was a beautiful woman, and was surprised by her strong ability to learn on her own. He offered to be Germain’s tutor. Under the guidance of Lagrange, Germain made rapid progress and later became a famous female mathematician in French history.

Protect Gauss


Germann’s early achievements were related to number theory, and she made important contributions to the proof of Fermat’s last Theorem. When she thought she had made a breakthrough, Germain wrote again under the pseudonym Anthony LeBlanc to Karl Friedrich Gauss, the world’s greatest number theorist (and one of history’s greatest mathematicians). Gauss admired the mystery writer’s talent, and they kept up a cordial exchange of letters for the next three years.

But one day in 1806, things took a turn for the worse, and Gauss’s life was threatened. Napoleon’s army invaded Prussia and Gauss’s home town of Brunswick was captured. Germain used her family network to send a letter to her friend, a general in the French army, asking him to keep Gauss safe. When Gauss learned that his life had been saved with the help of Miss Sophie Germain, he was both grateful and puzzled, as he did not know the woman. In a subsequent letter, Germain confessed her true identity. Gauss was taken aback when he learned he had been corresponding with a woman. After found the depth of her insights, and all the prejudices and obstacles she had to endure, Gauss told Germain, “There is no doubt that you possess the most admirable courage, superior intelligence, and superior talent.”
但1806年的一天,形势恶化,高斯的生命受到了威胁。 拿破仑军队侵入普鲁士,高斯的家乡不伦瑞克被占领。 热尔曼利用家庭关系网,给她在法国军队担任将军的朋友寄去了一封信,请求他保护高斯的安全。 当高斯得知是在索菲·热尔曼小姐的帮助下,他的生命才受到了保护时,他既心怀感激又困惑不解,因为他并不认识这位女性。 在随后的一封信中,热尔曼坦承了她的真实身份。当高斯知道自己一直在和一位女性通信时,他大吃一惊。 鉴于她的见解之深刻,以及她必须忍受的所有偏见和障碍,高斯告诉热尔曼,“毫无疑问,你拥有最值得尊崇的勇气、卓越的才智和出类拔萃的天赋。”

last part


After hearing about the competition to solve the mystery of the Cladney figure, Germain accepted the challenge bravely. She was the only one who dared to try to build the necessary theory from scratch. After three attempts, Germain finally won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences and became the first woman ever to do so. She is a worthy mathematical mulan.
在听说了旨在解开克拉德尼图形之谜的竞赛之后,热尔曼勇敢地接受了这项挑战。 她是唯一敢于尝试从零开始建立必要理论的人。经过三次尝试,热尔曼终于赢得了巴黎科学院的大奖,并成为有史以来第一位获此殊荣的女性。她就是当之无愧的数学界花木兰。

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