© 2020

Sophie Germain

Revolutionary Mathematician


  • First comprehensive biography of French mathematician Sophie Germain describing her contributions to mathematics and her efforts to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem

  • Includes many lesser-known facts about Sophie Germain and her contemporaries, including Gauss, Legendre, Lagrange, Libri, Poisson, Fourier, and Cauchy.

  • Fully referenced, this book offers a unique perspective on the scientific environment that flourished in nineteenth-century France


Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Dora Musielak
    Pages 1-15
  3. Dora Musielak
    Pages 17-34
  4. Dora Musielak
    Pages 35-51
  5. Dora Musielak
    Pages 53-59
  6. Dora Musielak
    Pages 61-72
  7. Dora Musielak
    Pages 73-93
  8. Dora Musielak
    Pages 95-102
  9. Dora Musielak
    Pages 103-114
  10. Dora Musielak
    Pages 115-139
  11. Dora Musielak
    Pages 141-146
  12. Dora Musielak
    Pages 147-186
  13. Dora Musielak
    Pages 187-197
  14. Dora Musielak
    Pages 199-204
  15. Dora Musielak
    Pages 205-217
  16. Back Matter
    Pages 219-254

About this book


Sophie Germain stood right between Gauss and Legendre, and both publicly recognized her scientific efforts. Unlike her female predecessors and contemporaries, Sophie Germain was an impressive mathematician and made lasting contributions to both number theory and the theories of plate vibrations and elasticity. She was able to walk with ease across the bridge between the fields of pure mathematics and engineering physics. Though isolated and snubbed by her peers, Sophie Germain was the first woman to win the prize of mathematics from the French Academy of Sciences. She is the only woman who contributed to the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

Sophie Germain – Revolutionary Mathematician paints a rich portrait of the brilliant and complex woman, including the mathematics she developed, her associations with Gauss, Legendre, and other leading researchers, and the tumultuous times in which she lived. In this unique biography, Dora Musielak has done the impossible―she has chronicled Sophie Germain’s brilliance through her life and work in mathematics, in a way that is simultaneously informative, comprehensive, and accurate.


Women mathematicians Sophie Germain Primes Chladni’s plate experiments Fermat’s Last Theorem Number Theory French Mathematicians Germain biography Prime Mystery: The Life and Science of Sophie Germain

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

About the authors

Dr. Dora Musielak is a Research Professor at the University of Texas-Arlington where she teaches advanced mathematics to doctoral students of science and engineering. She is a NASA Fellow and recipient of other honors. Passionate about the history of science, Dora Musielak is the author of Sophie’s Diary, a mathematical novel published by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and The Princess and the Mathematician, short stories based on the exact sciences. In 2018 she published Euler Celestial Analysis, a biography of Leonhard Euler that highlights his contributions to mathematical astronomy.


Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Sophie Germain
  • Book Subtitle Revolutionary Mathematician
  • Authors Dora Musielak
  • Series Title Springer Biographies
  • Series Abbreviated Title Springer Biographies
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics Mathematics and Statistics (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-38374-9
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-38377-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-38375-6
  • Series ISSN 2365-0613
  • Series E-ISSN 2365-0621
  • Edition Number 2
  • Number of Pages XVII, 254
  • Number of Illustrations 47 b/w illustrations, 7 illustrations in colour
  • Additional Information Originally published with the title: Prime Mystery: The Life and Mathematics of Sophie Germain
  • Topics History of Mathematical Sciences
    History and Philosophical Foundations of Physics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“The revised title and the book itself make the case that Sophie Germain was an extraordinary one-off, a remarkable woman who overcame incredibly unfair obstacles to achieve greatness, and paved the way for others. The documentary evidence discovered and synthesized here by Dora Musielak is far richer than I would have thought possible, and supports the title’s claim that Sophie Germain was a ‘Revolutionary Mathematician’.” (Dora Musielak, MAA Reviews, November 7, 2020)