Agnes Scott College

Rózsa Péter

Rozsa Peter

February 17, 1905 - February 16, 1977

Péter attended the Maria Terezia Girls' School until 1922, then entered the Pázmány Péter University (the oldest and largest university in Hungary, renamed Eötvös Loránd University in 1950) in Budapest to study chemistry. She later switched to the field of mathematics and received her degree in 1927. She received her Ph.D. in 1935. In her early papers and in her dissertation, Peter helped to found the modern field of recursive function theory as a separate area of mathematical research.

Péter did not receive her first full-time teaching position until 1945 when she joined the faculty of the Budapest Teachers Training College. She taught there until the college closed in 1955, then became a full professor at Eötvös Loránd University until her retirement in 1975.

In 1952 Péter became the first Hungarian female mathematician to become an Academic Doctor of Mathematics. She received many honors and prizes including the Kossuth Prize for her scientific and pedological work from the Hungarian government (1951), the Mano Beke Prize by the Janos Bolyai Mathematical Society (1953), and the State Prize, Silver Degree (1970) and Gold Degree (1973). In 1973 she was elected as the first female mathematician to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Péter was the author of Playing with Infinity: Mathematical Explorations and Excursions, translated into at least 14 languages, and Recursive Functions in Computer Theory. The latter was the second Hungarian mathematical book to be published in the Soviet Union because its subject matter was considered indispensable to the theory of computers.


  1. Andreka, Hajnal. "Rozsa Peter (1905-1977)," in Women of Mathematics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook, Grinstein and Campbell, Editors, Greenwood Press, 1987, 171-174.
  2. Morris, Edie and Leon Harkleroad. "Rozsa Peter: Recursive Function Theory's Founding Mother," Mathematical Intelligencer 12(1) (1990), 50.
  3. "Rozsa Peter and Recursion," in History of Math, Key Curriculum Press, 1996, p197-198
  4. Tamassy, Istvan. "Interview with Rozsa Peter," translated by Leon Harkleroad, Modern Logic 4(3) (1994), 277-280.
  5. Moite, Sally M. "Rozsa Peter," in Notable Mathematicians, Robyn Young, Editor, Gale Research, 1998, 394-395.
  6. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  7. Author Profile at zbMath
  8. Biography at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive