Olga Taussky-Todd

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Olga Taussky-Todd (August 30, 1906 – October 7, 1995) was an Austrian, and later Czech, mathematician, who emigrated to the United States in 1947. She was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1986.


  • The work at school was really not that difficult if one applied oneself to it, but it was so uninteresting that you could not wish to apply yourself. I felt there was another mathematics.
    I later found that the yearning for and the satisfaction gained from mathematical inslight brings the subject near to art. While talent is undoubtedly needed by itself, it does not always make a person a mathematician. Yet most people who go into mathematics do it because they are know they are good at it. When their talent slowly declines they find themselves occasionally quite lost. This happens to some people at an early age. But what are they to do then?
    • (1980). "Autobiography of Olga Taussky-Todd". Caltech Oral Histories, The Caltech Institute Archives. (autobiographical essay written for the Caltech Institute Archives in 1979-80 by Olga Taussky-Todd and edited by Mary Terrall; quote from pages 6–7)
  • In spite of my admiration for Schlick, I myself left his seminar and even his private circle, to which I had been admitted. I was the youngest in age in the Vienna Circle, but I was disappointed that these gatherings could not give me guidance for my work in number theory. Had I realized what Gödel would achieve later, I would not have run away.
    For Gödel's results show that logic is not a subject that stands alone and is a basis for mathematical thinking; it is in fact part of mathematics.

Quotes about Olga Taussky-Todd[edit]

  • Olga Taussky is remembered by many for her lectures. One was AWM's Noether Lecture in 1981; this had a special resonance, for she had known Emmy Noether both at Göttingen and at Bryn Mawr. Others remember Olga as author of some beautiful research papers, as teacher, as collaborator, and someone whose zest for mathematics was deeply felt and contagious. The field she is most identified with—which might be called "linear algebra and applications," though "real and complex matrix theory" would be preferred by some—did not have autonomous existence in the 1930s, despite the textbook by C. C. MacDuffee. Her service in that field is the very highest, as was palpable in the standing ovation after her survey talk at the second Raleigh conference.

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