Sofya Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya (Russian: Софья Васильевна Ковалевская), born Korvin-Krukovskaya (15 January [O.S. 3 January] 1850 – 10 February 1891), was a Russian mathematician who made noteworthy contributions to analysis, partial differential equations and mechanics. She was a pioneer for women in mathematics around the world – the first woman to obtain a doctorate (in the modern sense) in mathematics, the first woman appointed to a full professorship in northern Europe and one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor. According to historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz, Kovalevskaya was "the greatest known woman scientist before the twentieth century".: 255
Historian of mathematics Roger Cooke writes:
... the more I reflect on her life and consider the magnitude of her achievements, set against the weight of the obstacles she had to overcome, the more I admire her. For me she has taken on a heroic stature achieved by very few other people in history. To venture, as she did, into academia, a world almost no woman had yet explored, and to be consequently the object of curious scrutiny, while a doubting society looked on, half-expecting her to fail, took tremendous courage and determination. To achieve, as she did, at least two major results of lasting value to scholarship, is evidence of a considerable talent, developed through iron discipline.: 1
Her sister was the socialist Anne Jaclard.
There are several alternative transliterations of her name. She herself used Sophie Kowalevski (or occasionally Kowalevsky) in her academic publications.