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Grace HopperDecember is the month in which the mathematician Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906) was born. She attended Wardlaw-Hartridge school in Plainfield and studied math at Yale University in Connecticut. She taught math at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. She was one of the pioneers of computer science. She invented the compiler and the programming language COBOL. The clock in her office ran counterclockwise to remind herself that most problems have more than one solution. She felt her greatest contribution was "all the young people I've trained." Admiral Hopper is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Google honored her on her birthday a few years ago with a doodle.
Sister Mary Kenneth KellerDecember is also the month in which the mathematician Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (December 17, 1913) was born. She was the first person in the United States to earn a PhD in computer science in 1965 from the University of Wisconsin. Her vision was that every student should have access to a computer, and any teacher should be able to use a computer in the classroom. She founded and led the computer science department at Clarke University in Iowa for almost 20 years.
Emilie du ChateletDecember is also the month in which the mathematician Emilie du Châtelet (December 17, 1706) was born. She was born in Paris to a wealthy family and showed great promise as a student at an early age. She received private tutoring in many subjects including fencing, riding and gymnastics, but her favorite subject was math. Her books describing the new revolutions taking place in science and mathematics at that time are considered by many to be among the best. She was one of many women whose contributions have helped shape the course of mathematics.
Charles HermiteFrench mathematician Charles Hermite (pronounced "sharl air meet") was born December 24, 1822. He was admitted to the prestigious École Polytechnique but left after one year because of mistreatment due to a physical disability with his right foot. Four years later he returned to the school, not as a student, but as a teacher. He showed that although fifth degree algebraic equations cannot be solved in radicals, they can be solved using elliptic functions. He famously showed that e is a transcendental number. One of his students, Jacques Hadamard once said, "Hermite has a kind of positive hatred of geometry."
Isaac NewtonDecember is also the month in which the mathematician Isaac Newton (December 25, 1642 Julian calendar) was born. He was born in England to a poor farming family. His achievements in math and science are almost too numerous to mention. His laws of motion revolutionized astronomy. He made great discoveries in optics and developed the reflecting telescope. He developed calculus. Most consider his contributions to the development of science and mathematics to be the greatest of any individual in history.

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