Olga Ladyzhenskaya: Few Things were Hidden from the Public

Olga Ladyzhenskaya
Olga Ladyzhenskaya

Olga Ladyzhenskaya, one of the most influential thinkers and women academicians in the world of mathematics which continues to impact mathematics and science in 2020. Olga Aleksandrovna Ladyzhenskaya was a Russian mathematician who lived through the Soviet Union regime, whose primary focus was on partial differential equations, fluid dynamics, and the finite difference method for the Navier–Stokes equations. 

Olga Ladyzhenskaya Education and career

Olga Ladyzhenskaya was born on 7 March 1922 in the small town of Kologriv. Her father was a passionate maths teacher. Her father introduced her to algebra. Since childhood, she was credited for her engross for the subject and the persistent hard work for the knowledge of the subject. Gennady Ladyzhensky who was a renowned Russian landscape painter and Academician at the Imperial Academy of Arts was her paternal grandfather.  During 1937 her father, Aleksandr Ivanovich Ladýzhenski, was arrested by the NKVD(interior ministry of the soviet union ) and executed under the label  “enemy of the people” when she was 15.  Her mother and sisters sold dresses, shoes, and soaps to meet the end needs. When  Leningrad State University rejected her, she started taking maths tuition classes for secondary students. 

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Olga didn’t have normal college days like her sisters. after her father’s execution, Her family’s whereabouts prevented her from acquiring higher education. But soon after the German invasion, She was finally admitted to Moscow State University in 1943 and graduated in 1947. Living under the soviet union regime prevented Ladyzhenskaya from completing research and venturing beyond eastern Europe. While she completed her thesis in 1951 it could not be published until 1933 following the death of Joseph Stalin,

she received her Ph.D. from the prestigious Leningrad State University under the renowned mathematician Ivan Petrovsky. and started teaching in the department of physics. After three years she received another doctorate and joined as a teacher at the mathematical physics laboratory of the Steklov Mathematical Institute and later become the head of the department by 1961. She become the first woman to head the st Petersburg mathematical society in 1990.

Achievements and contributions in mathematics 

Olga Ladyzhenskaya was known for her work on partial differential equations Hilbert’s nineteenth problem to be specific and fluid dynamics She provided the first rigorous proofs of the convergence of a finite difference method in the real analysis and for the Navier–Stokes equation where mathematically expressing conservation of momentum, conservation of mass, and conservation of energy. She analyzed the regularity of parabolic equations and the regularity of quasilinear elliptic equations. Her world are the practical application of many of the theoretical works. They continue to impact the fields including oceanography, cardiovascular science, aerodynamics, and weather forecasting. She authored more than 250 papers in mathematics.

She was widely perceived as a rebel. She lived under an oppressive regime Ladyzhenskaya never shied away from expressing her opinions. She was once a member of the city council in Kologriv, which focused on philanthropic efforts where she repeatedly risked her personal safety and career to aid those oppressed by the Soviet regime. As a true admirer of art and nature, she got involved in the st Petersberg intellectual scene and befriended critics of the soviet union.

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Olga Ladyzhenskaya: Awards

Russian academy of science awarded her Lomonosov gold medal in 2002. P. L. Chebyshev Prize (with Nina Nikolayevna Ural’tseva ) in 1966 for her works in “Linear and quasilinear equations of elliptic type”, USSR State Prize in 1969 she was also recognized as a Lifetime Member of Lincei National Academy in Rome since 1989. The famous Russian mathematician Nina Nikolaevna Uraltseva, theoretical physicist and mathematician Ludvig Dmitrievich Faddeev, mathematical physicist  Vladimir Savel’evich Buslaev are remarkable students of Olga Ladyzhenskaya. 

Her first book published in 1953 called Mixed Problems for a Hyperbolic Equation which used the finite difference method to prove theoretical products, mainly the solvability of initial boundary-value problems for general second-order hyperbolic equations. Anna Akhmatova a famous Russian poet, also one of the close friends of  Olga Ladyzhenskaya devoted a poem to her. She died unexpectedly in her sleep on 12 January 2004 shortly before her 82nd birthday. Two days before her death, she had sketched a paper on computational aspects in hydrodynamics and planned to finish it on her trip to Florida. Even up till her death she was coping with the challenge of serious eye problems affecting her sight.