By Middle and Upper School Director of Studies Sven Carlsson
The Google Doodle from Thursday celebrated the life of mathematician Olga Ladyzhenskaya. Overcoming tragedy and adversity, she was very influential in the field of differential equations—the study of systems of equations involving rates of change (derivatives) in multiple variables. DiffEQ, as it is affectionately called by some, has been critical to the development of modern technology, engineering and science. Essentially all of the currently known laws of physics and chemistry are differential equations, and our investigations of climate change, population growth, chemical reactions and the spread of diseases would not be possible without DiffEQ.
As a further example, when relief organizations need to air drop packages of emergency supplies to a precise location (because terrain or other factors make ground transportation unsafe or impossible), they need to use differential equations to factor in the weight of the supplies, air resistance of the falling package, speed of the airplane, humidity, wind speed, etc. to ensure safe delivery.
Given that it is March Mathness, the timing of this doodle is quite perfect!
If you would like to learn more about Ladyzhenskaya, click this link to watch a short video that includes “Everything You Need to Know.”