Kovalevsky, Sonya or Sophie (kōˌvəlĕfˈskē) [key], 1850–91, Russian mathematician. She studied at the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin (under K. T. Weierstrass) and in 1874 received a Ph.D. in absentia from the Univ. of Göttingen for her remarkable thesis on partial differential equations. From 1884 she taught at the Univ. of Stockholm. In 1888 she won the Bordin Prize of the French Academy of Sciences for a memoir on the rotation of a solid body about a fixed point. Her childhood reminiscences, published in 1890, were translated as Sonya Kovalevsky: Her Recollections of Childhood (1895), with a biographical study by Anna Leffler Edgren.
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