Sunday, February 17, 2013

MathWoman Limericks

My desk dictionary describes a limerick as a nonsense poem; my own experience has found these five-line rhymes to be more often bawdy than nonsensical.  A mathematician and poet who has extended the limerick to verses about mathematics is Philadelphian and Arcadia professor, Marion Deutsche Cohen.  Downloads of mathy limericks are available at her website.  Scrolling down a bit on Cohen's page of downloads, leads to "Permission to Add" -- a collection of limericks based on mathematical ideas. Below I feature several limericks from Cohen's newest collection of limericks -- also available for download --  about women who are/were mathematicians

For example

Roxanna Hayward Vivian (1871-1961)

     The first woman PhD
     from prestigious U of P
        wrote her thesis (correct)
        about poles with respect
     to curves of the nth degree.

Elizabeth Street Dickerman (1872-1965)

     She became the second female
     with a math PhD from Yale.
        Not your typical coed,
        she was also a poet.
     You may Google for more detail.

Patricia Clark Kenschaft

     She teaches math at Montclair
     and has done much else while there.
        Her writings on women in
        math make her eminent.
     She has helped to change "unfair" to "fair."

A great source of information about dozens of women-mathematicians is this site maintained by Agnes Scott College (and Larry Riddle).  Cohen used this site for source material -- and says that she finds the chronological listing of the math women particularly useful.  
Also, I invite you to browse this blog for other poetry that pays tribute to women of mathematics.

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