Google Doodle honours mathematician Olga Ladyzhenskaya

Thursday’s Google Doodle looks at a woman whose math teacher father nurtured her brilliance before the winds of political unrest snatched him away.

Olga Ladyzhenskaya was born March 7, 1922, in Kologriv, a small town in western Russia, and spent her early years being inspired with a love of mathematics by her father, Aleksandr.

She lost him as a teenager in 1937, when he was arrested by Soviet authorities, declared an enemy of the state and killed. Her family name stopped her from getting into Leningrad State University (now Saint Petersburg State University) two years later, but she ultimately got into Moscow University in 1943.

After earning her Ph.D., Ladyzhenskaya went on to lead the Laboratory of Mathematical Physics at the Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow and to write more than 250 papers.

She’s best known for her work on fluid dynamics of the Navier–Stokes equations — which describe the motion of viscous substances — and partial differential equations.

Ladyzhenskaya’s contributions to the field earned her the Lomonosov Gold Medal from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2002. She died on Jan. 12, 2004, at the age of 81.

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