Virginia Ragsdale

Virginia Ragsdale

Virginia Ragsdale

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Virginia Ragsdale (December 13, 1870 - June 4, 1945) was a teacher and a mathematician specializing in number theory. She is most known as the creator of the Ragsdale conjecture.

Early life

Ragsdale was born on a farm in Jamestown, North Carolina. She attended a private school in Jamestown.


As a junior, Ragsdale entered Salem Academy, where she studied piano as well as academic studies. She graduated in 1887 as valedictorian. Ragsdale soon attended Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and actively shaped the college while there. She was able to establish a Y.M.C.A. on campus, expand collegiate athletics, and she contributed to form the Guilford's Alumni Association.

She was given a scholarship from Bryn Mawr College for being the woman with the highest scholastic average after her graduation from Guilford College with a B.S. degree in 1892. She studied physics at Bryn Mawr College, obtaining an A.B. degree, and continued on as a graduate student. After a year of study, she earned a fellowship to study in Europe.

Together with two of her colleagues, she chose to spend her year abroad at the University of Göttingen, Germany, in which she worked with Felix Klein and David Hilbert. After her return to the United States, she taught in Baltimore until a second scholarship permitted her to return to her alma mater college to complete her Ph.D. degree. Her first notable dissertation, "On the Arrangement of the Real Branches of Plane Algebraic Curves,"...
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