Emmy Noether was a pre-eminent twentieth century, German mathematician. The new discoveries and developments in theoretical physics and abstract algebra were credited to her. Great mathematicians who came after her regarded her very highly including Albert Einstein, Hermann Weyl and Pavel Alexandrov. They deemed her a chief figure in the history of mathematics especially for being a woman and an accomplished one at that. She developed the theories of algebras, fields and rings. She also proposed Noether’s theorem which elucidates the link between conservation laws and symmetry.
Amalie Emmy Noether was born on March 23, 1882 in Erlangen, Bavaria, German Empire to a Jewish family. She received the proclivity for mathematics from her father, Max Noether, who was a mathematician himself. In her early years of education she remained an average student of clever and amiable nature. Her mathematical propensity shone out when she quickly solved a brain teaser at a children’s party. That was the age of limiting women to home chores and Emmy did learn all those chores but with lack of desire. She was proficient in English and French and when took up an exam as a teacher, she scored a good grade.
Initially, Emmy planned to teach English and French after clearing pre-requisite exams. However, she opted to study mathematics enrolling herself at the same academic institute where her father lectured, University of Erlangen. Paul Gordon supervised her dissertation which she completed in 1907. That was the time when women were overlooked for academic positions, thus Emmy worked for seven years without pay at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen.
In 1935, David Hilbert and Felix Klein from the University of Göttingen, invited Emmy to join its mathematics department of outstanding reputation. After an objection from philosophical faculty accusing her of teaching under Hilbert’s name, she was finally accepted as Privatdozent in 1919. She taught at the Göttingen mathematics department for two decades and her students were nicknamed “Noether boys” after her. A leading Dutch mathematician, B. L. van der Waerden was influenced by her work and composed Moderne Algebra with the help of her theoretical knowledge. In Zürich, she addressed at the International Congress of Mathematicians, where for the time she was recognized as a leading female mathematician.
In 1933, a year following her address Germany was occupied by Nazis who expelled all the Jews from government positions which rendered Emmy to migrate to United States. She was offered a position at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Her mathematical work is divided into three components chronologically. The first era is the one marked by her contribution to number fields and algebraic invariants during 1908-1919. She contributed to the modern physics by her extraordinary work in the calculus of variations, Noether’s Theorem.
The second era is marked by her work that fundamentally altered the landscape of algebra that began in 1920 and lasted for six years. She proposed a distinguished theory of ideals in commutative rings in her paper titled, Theory of Ideals in Ring Domains. The final era was dominated by publication of her work on noncommutative algebras and hypercomplex numbers. That was the era nearing the Second World War. Emmy was a generous person who let other mathematicians borrow her work to be used in their research publications.
Upon the discovery of ovarian cyst in her pelvis in 1935, Emmy underwent a surgery immediately. The surgeons found two benign tumors and a large cyst. The surgery went successful but four days later Emmy Noether lost the battle for her life at the age of 53.