Italian mathematician and philosopher Maria Gaetana Agnesi’s 296th birthday is being celebrated in today’s Google Doodle on the Google home page.

Agnesi is believed to be the first woman in the Western world to be recognised as a mathematician. She is also famous for the Witch of Agnesi mathematical equation curve, which is achieved by drawing a line from the source through the circle of radius. The curve has been used by 20th and 21st century mathematicians and physicists for working on  X-rays, optical lines and electrical circuits.

Born in Milan on May 16th, 1718, Agnesi was recognised as a child prodigy early in her childhood, mastering Italian, French, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, German and Spanish by the age of eleven. She grew up to become the second woman in the West to be appointed as a university professor at the University of Bologna and wrote the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus.

Later in her life, Agnesi devoted herself to theology, giving to the poor, homeless, and sick, giving away the gifts she had received and begging for money to continue her work with the poor. Agnesi died on January 9th, 1799 at the age of 80.