Today’s Google Doodle (visit google.com to see it, or if you miss today, you can find it in their archive) celebrates Russian mathematician Olga Ladyzhenskaya. In recognition of her 97th birthday, the Doodle includes the Navier-Stokes equations, of which Ladyzhenskaya provided the first rigorous proofs of convergence using a finite-difference method.
Today’s Doodle celebrates Olga Ladyzhenskaya, a Russian mathematician who triumphed over personal tragedy and obstacles to become one of the most influential thinkers of her generation.
Born in the rural town of Kologriv on this day in 1922, Ladyzhenskaya was inspired to love algebra by her father, a mathematician descended from Russian nobility. She was just 15 years old when her father was jailed and executed by Soviet authorities who accused him of being an “enemy of the state.” Subsequently, her mother and sisters sold dresses, shoes, and soap to make ends meet. Despite graduating from secondary school with excellent grades, she was later denied admission to Leningrad State University because of her family name.
After years of teaching math to secondary school students, Ladyzhenskaya finally got the chance to attend Moscow State University, studying under the renowned mathematician Ivan Petrovsky. There, she earned her PhD and went on to head the Laboratory of Mathematical Physics at the Steklov Mathematical Institute. Later, she elected to stay in Russia despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic pressures that followed.
The author of more than 250 papers, Ladyzhenskaya’s methods for solving partial differential equations remain profoundly influential. A member of the St. Petersburg Mathematical Society since 1959, she became its president in 1990. Beyond mathematics, she was also a lover of nature and the arts.
Recognized by numerous international institutions, she was awarded the Lomonosov Gold Medal by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2002 for her impressive contributions to the world of mathematics.
Happy 97th birthday, Olga!
Who was Olga Ladyzhenskaya? by Celebration Doodle on YouTube
Olga Ladyzhenskaya: Why is the Google Doodle celebrating the Russian mathematician’s 97th birthday?, at the Evening Standard