Great Mathematicians


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Famous Mathematicians by Nationality

Ancient Greek Mathematicians
Thales of Miletus (624 - 546 BC), pre-Socratic Greek philosopher: Thales' theorem

Pythagoras of Samos (570 - 495 BC), Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician: best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name.

Euclid (Euclid of Alexandria) (323–283 BC), Ancient Greek mathematician: often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, especially geometry.

Archimedes of Syracuse (287 - 212 BC), Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist and engineer: approximated the value of pi using the method of exhaustion (a method of finding the area of a shape by inscribing inside it a sequence of polygons whose areas converge to the area of the containing shape).

Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276 - 195 BC), Greek mathematician and astronomer: was the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth.

Apollonius of Perga (262 - 190 BC), Ancient Greek geometer and astronomer: noted for his writings on conic sections. Apollonius introduced the terms parabola, hyperbola, and ellipse.

Muslim Mathematicians
Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (780 - 850), Muslim mathematician and astronomer: considered the inventor of algebra (the world algebra is derived from the title of his greatest mathematical work). In the twelfth century, Latin translations of his work on the Indian numerals, introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. His Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations in Arabic.

Al-Karaji (953 - 1029), Muslim mathematician and engineer: studied the algebra of exponents and wrote on the binomial theorem and Pascal's triangle.

Indian Mathematicians
Brahmagupta (598–668 CE), Indian mathematician and astronomer: wrote many important works on mathematics and astronomy. His best known work is the Brahmasphutasiddhanta - including mathematical role of zero, negative and positive numbers, computing square roots, solving linear and quadratic equations, Brahmagupta's identity, and the Brahmagupta’s theorem.

Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan (1887 - 1920), Indian mathematician: a remarkable mathematical genius and autodidact who made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and more.


Chinese Mathematicians
Qin Jiushao (1202–1261) was the first to introduce the zero symbol into Chinese mathematics

French Mathematicians
Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650), French philosopher and mathematician: credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis.

Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662), French mathematician and physicist: described a convenient tabular presentation for binomial coefficients, now called Pascal's triangle.

Pierre de Fermat (1601 - 1665), French lawyer and an amateur mathematician: best known for Fermat's Last Theorem. He is also given credit for early developments that led to infinitesimal calculus. In particular, he is recognized for his discovery of an original method of finding the greatest and the smallest ordinates of curved lines, which is analogous to that of the then unknown differential calculus, and his research into number theory.

1824: Joseph Fourier (1768 - 1830), French mathematician and physicist: best known for initiating the investigation of Fourier series and their applications to problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier series decomposes periodic functions into the sum of a set of simple oscillating functions, namely sines and cosines.

Jules Henri Poincare (1854 - 1912) French mathematician and a philosopher of science: made many original fundamental contributions to pure and applied mathematics, mathematical physics, and celestial mechanics. He was responsible for formulating the Poincaré conjecture, one of the most famous unsolved problems in mathematics, until it was solved in 2003 by Grigori Perelman (see below).

Laurent-Moise Schwartz (1915 - 2002), French mathematician: pioneered the theory of distributions, which gives a well-defined meaning to objects such as the Dirac delta function (a function that it is zero for all values of a parameter except when the parameter is zero, and its integral is equal to 1. Instrumnetal for signal processing, probability theory and quantum mechanics). He was awarded the Fields medal in 1950 for his work.

Benoit Mandelbrot (1924 - 2010), French-American mathematician: best known as the father of fractal geometry. He coined the term fractal and described the Mandelbrot set.

British Mathematicians
John Napier (1550 – 1617), Scottish mathematician, physicist and astronomer: logarithms, Napier's bones, decimal notation.

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727): English physicists and mathematician - co-inventor (with Leibniz) of differential and integral calculus.

George Boole (1815 - 1864), English mathematician and philosopher: formalized Boolean algebra, the basis for digital logic and computer science.

G. H. Hardy (Godfrey Harold) (1877 - 1947), English mathematician: known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis.

Alan Turing (1912 - 1954) English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist: was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer.

Andrew John Wiles (1953 - ), British mathematician: most famous for proving Fermat's Last Theorem in 1993 (see above).


German Mathematicians
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 - 1716), German philosopher and mathematician: Leibniz is credited, along with Sir Isaac Newton, with the invention of infinitesimal calculus that comprises differential and integral calculus.

Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777 - 1855), German mathematician and physical scientist who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics.

Bernhard Riemann (1826 - 1866), German mathematician: made lasting contributions to analysis and differential geometry, some of them enabling the later development of general relativity (Riemannian geometry - a non-Euclidean geometry).

Amalie Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935), German mathematician known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics.

1915: David Hilbert (1862 – 1943), German mathematician: submitted an article containing the correct field equations for general relativity five days before Einstein. Hilbert never claimed priority for this theory (the matter is disputed).

American Mathematicians
John von Neumann (1903 - 1957), Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath: made major contributions to game theory, set theory, statistics, quantum mechanics, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics, linear programming computer science and more.

Claude Shannon (1916 - 2001), American mathematician and electronic engineer: considered by many as father of modern information theory: His paper A Mathematical Theory of Communication dealt with the design of communication channels to carry the maximum amount of reliable information by correction of disturbances caused by line distortions and noise.

Benoit Mandelbrot (1924 - 2010), French-American mathematician: best known as the father of fractal geometry. He coined the term fractal and described the Mandelbrot set.

Robert (Yisrael) Aumann (1930 - ), Israeli-American mathematician: member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Aumann received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.

Italian Mathematicians
Leonardo Fibonacci (1170 - 1250) Italian mathematician: best known for the spreading of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in Europe, primarily through the publication of his Book of Calculation, the Liber Abaci; and for a number sequence named after him known as the Fibonacci numbers, which he did not discover but used as an example in the Liber Abaci.

Gerolamo Cardano (1501 - 1576), Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, and gambler. His gambling led him to formulate elementary rules in probability, making him one of the founders of the field. Best known for his achievements in algebra. He published the solutions to the cubic and quartic equations in his 1545 book Ars Magna.

Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736 - 1813), Italian mathematician and astronomer: made significant contributions to all fields of analysis, number theory, and classical and celestial mechanics.

Giuseppe Peano (1858 - 1932), Italian mathematician: the author of over 200 books and papers, he was a founder of mathematical logic and set theory.

Russian Mathematicians
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (1792 - 1856), Russian mathematician and geometer: renowned for his pioneering works on hyperbolic geometry - the Lobachevskian geometry (non-Euclidean geometry).

Grigori Perelman (1966 - ), Russian mathematician: made landmark contributions to Riemannian geometry and geometric topology. In 2003 he solved the Poincaré conjecture.

Hungarian Mathematicians
Paul Erdos (1913 - 1996), Hungarian mathematician: Erdos published more papers than any other mathematician in history. He worked on problems in combinatorics, graph theory, number theory, classical analysis, approximation theory, set theory, and probability theory.

John von Neumann (1903 - 1957), Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath: made major contributions to game theory, set theory, statistics, quantum mechanics, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics, linear programming computer science and more.

Swiss Mathematicians
Leonhard Euler (1707 – 1783), Swiss mathematician and physicist: contributions to infinitesimal calculus and graph theory.

Austrian Mathematicians
Kurt Friedrich Godel (1906 - 1978), Austrian logician, mathematician and philosopher: important contributions to mathematical logic and the philosophy of mathematics: the incompleteness theorems (inherent limitations of axiomatic systems).

Israeli Mathematicians
Robert (Yisrael) Aumann (1930 - ), Israeli-American mathematician: member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Aumann received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.

More Mathematics Biographies
Famous Mathematicians - Biographies and Contributions
Biographies of Math - allmath.com
Mathematicians and Statisticians - Fact Monster
Famous Mathematicians
Historical Tidbits - Seton Hall
The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive - St Andrews
Periodic Table of Mathematicians - Erich Friedman, Stetson University
Prime Encyclopedia
Mathematicians - Eric Weisstein
The History of Mathematics - Trinity College
Notable Mathematicians - USNA
Women in Math Project - Marie Vitulli, Department of Mathematics University of Oregon


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