Agnes Scott College

Emma Trotskaia Lehmer

Emma Lehmer

November 6, 1906 - May 7, 2007

Emma Trotskaia was born in Samara, Russia, but her college education was at the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a B.A. with honors in mathematics in 1928. She also married Derrick Henry Lehmer, a Berkeley physics major, that same year. Her father-in-law, Derrick Norman Lehmer, was also a mathematician who had employed Emma (at student wages) to do some tedious tabulating work that his son was also helping him with. Emma and her husband moved to Brown University where D.H. Lehmer received his Ph.D. in mathematics and Emma Lehmer received a master's degree, both in 1930. Her master's thesis was on "A Numerical Function Applied to Cyclotomy". Results from this work were published in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, Vol. 36, No. 4 (April 1930), 291-298 [Abstract, Article].

The Lehmers had two children, born in 1932 and 1934. While her husband taught at the California Institute of Technology, Stanford, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Lehigh University, and ultimately became a full professor at Berkeley where he spent the rest of his career, Emma Lehmer's mathematical career was primarily spent in independent research. Nepotism rules at Berkeley prevented both family members from holding a faculty position. Nevertheless, Emma and her husband co-authored 21 mathematical papers, and altogether Emma wrote approximately 60 papers in the area of number theory.

After her husband's death in 1991, Emma wrote up her husband's unfinished work and oversaw the publication of those materials. In August 2000, UC Berkeley hosted the Lehmer Conference to highlight the mathematical contributions, inventions, and influences from Derrick Norman Lehmer, Derrick Henry Lehmer, and Emma Lehmer. It took three days and fifteen speakers to cover the range of their mathematical interests.

See some articles in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society written by Emma Lehmer.


  1. Brillhart, John, "Emma Lehmer 1906-2007", Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Vol 54, No. 11 (December 2007), 1500-1501.
  2. "Mathematician Emma Lehmer dies at 100", UC Berkele News Press Release, May 11, 2007.
  3. Perl, Teri. "Emma Trotskaya Lehmer," Notable Women in Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary, Charlene Morrow and Teri Perl, Editors. Greenwood Press, 1998, 123-128.
  4. Lehmer, Emma. "My Life and Times (A Memoir written in 1992)" Lehmer Conference Program, 2000, 41-47.
  5. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  6. Author Profile at zbMath
  7. Biography at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive

Photo Credit: Photo used with permission of Laura Lehmer Gould. The photo was taken on Emma Lehmer's wedding day.