In 1864, when she was just four years old, Alicia’s father George Boole contracted pneumonia and died, leaving Mary Everest Boole with five daughters and very little money. Nonetheless, Mary educated their daughters well in mathematics and geometry, logic and thinking for themselves.
When she was seventeen, Alicia’s brother-in-law Charles Howard Hinton began teaching George and Mary’s five daughters, inspiring Alicia to acquire a grasp of four dimensional geometry.
Lucy Everest Boole assisted her nephew Geoffrey Ingram Taylor in his work, and she collaborated with Wyndham Rowland Dunstan. Geoffrey Ingram Taylor reported how much influence his home life had, meaning ‘much more to me than anything I did at school‘, and that Alicia and her four sisters Mary, Margaret, Lucy Everest Boole and Ethel were often in attendance, as was their mother Mary Everest Boole (George Boole had died when the children were quite young), who “all contributed to the family influences.”
Alicia found that there were exactly six regular polytopes in four dimensions and that they are bounded by 5, 16 or 600 tetrahedra, 8 cubes, 24 octahedra or 120 dodecahedra. She then produced three-dimensional central cross-sections of all the six regular polytopes by purely Euclidean constructions and synthetic methods for the simple reason that she had never learned any analytic geometry. She made beautiful cardboard models of all these sections.
After taking up secretarial work near Liverpool in 1889 she met and married Walter Stott in 1890. Stott learned of Pieter Schoute‘s work on central sections of the regular polytopes in 1895 and Alicia Stott sent him photographs of her cardboard models. Pieter Schoute came to England and worked with Alicia Stott, persuading her to publish her results which she did in two papers published in Amsterdam in 1900 and 1910.
The University of Groningen honoured her by inviting her to attend the tercentenary celebrations of the university and awarding her an honorary doctorate in 1914.
In 1930 she was introduced to Harold Scott MacDonald Coxeter and they worked together on various problems. Alicia Stott made two further important discoveries relating to constructions for polyhedra related to the golden section. Coxeter described his time doing joint work with her saying:
- The strength and simplicity of her character combined with the diversity of her interests to make her an inspiring friend.
Her nephew was the fluid dynamicist, Geoffrey Ingram Taylor.
- A New Era of Thought, by Charles Howard Hinton [Completed by Alicia Boole and H. J. Falk.] (1900)
- On Certain Series of Sections of the Regular Four-dimensional Hypersolids (1900)
- On the Sections of a Block of Eight Cells by a Space Rotating about a Plane (1908)
- Geometrical Deduction of Semiregular from Regular Polytopes and Space Fillings (1910)
Alicia Boole Stott had four sisters:
- Mary Ellen (7 June 1856 – 28 May 1908), who married the mathematician and author Charles Howard Hinton (1853 – 1907). They had three children, Howard, William and Joan.
- Margaret (1858 – 16 August 1935), whose son Geoffrey Ingram Taylor became a mathematician and a Fellow of the Royal Society
- Lucy Everest Boole, a chemist who, in 1888, was only the second woman to pass the London School of Pharmacy‘s major examination, and was the first woman to formally conduct research in pharmaceutical chemistry.
- Ethel Lilian (11 May 1864 – 27 July 1960), who married the Polish scientist and revolutionary Wilfrid Michael Voynich and was the author of the novel The Gadfly.