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Top 10 Great Mathematicians the world has ever got – Top 10 Lists & facts

The world owes a lot to great Mathematicians without which all development in science and technology couldn’t have happened.  This list of great mathematicians in the world is surely not the definitive list but an effort to collate few of them whose contribution has substantially improved the methodology in which calculations are done. At the same time we would like to express our gratitude to all great mathematicians who have contributed in whatever way they could to this great subject.

10. Andrew Wiles

One of the great mathematicians of modern times! Most notable for proving Ferment’s last theorem, that no positive integers can satisfy the equation a^n+b^n=c^n for n greater than 2. Currently working as a royal society research professor at Oxford University, he specializes in number theory. A dedicated person, he shut himself from whole world when he decided to find out the solution of the theorem. And when his solution was scrutinized for an error, he further devoted one year to solitude before the solution was accepted.

9. Hypatia

If you were wondering about the contributions of women in mathematics, they were not any far behind than the men. Next in the line is Hypatia who was a scholar in the library in Alexandria in the 4th century CE. Her most significant work was her edited version of Euclid’s The Elements text. While teaching mathematics at a school her father established, she lectured a number of people including Plato and Aristotle and people from all over the world. Her speeches included discussions on the techniques Diophantus devised and solutions to his indeterminate problems. She was murdered horribly by the Greek mob who pulled her from her chariot, stripped her naked and butchered her to pieces but her death remained symbolic by generations of European freethinkers and scientists.

8. Pythagoras

Pythagoras, perhaps the greatest mathematicians of all times, was a Ionian Greek philosopher and great mathematician. Born in the island of Samos, Pythagoras travelled widely in his youth, visiting Egypt and far off lands, in his quest for knowledge. This great mathematician, also made influential contributions to philosophy, religious teachings, and even started a religious sect of his own in Croton, Magna Graecia. This religious movement was called Pythagoreanism. A name everyone identifies because of the fundamental geometry theorem after his name, Pythagoras was a mystical figure, and makes it to the list of great mathematicians.

7. Euclid

Often called as the ‘Father of Geometry’, the Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician. Euclid’s elements, the great mathematician’s work are among the most influential works in the history of mathematics. Euclidean geometry is derived from a small set of axioms.  Even after 23 centuries of his being, a system of rigorous mathematical proof found in Euclid’s Elements remain the basis of mathematics. Even through many of the results in Elements originated with earlier mathematicians, Euclid’s achievement was to present them in a logically coherent framework, compiled in a single book, which made them easy to access and refer to. This therefore shoots him at the 7th place in this list of great mathematicians

6. Alan Turing

British computer scientist, Alan Turing is widely regarded as one of many great mathematicians in the 20th century. Graduating first class from Cambridge, he was chosen as the main cryptanalyst for Britain during the Second World War. During his fellowship, he wrote a number of papers on computable numbers and worked on the concept of artificial intelligence which ultimately became the basis of his own “Turing Machine”, a device created to work out the limit of what was computable and what not. Later in his life, he also started working on a new branch of mathematics; mathematical biology. In 1952, however he was tried and convicted of homosexuality and in 1954 he committed suicide through cyanide poisoning.

5.  Leibniz

Another great German mathematician and philosopher is Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. Renowned for developing infinitesimal calculus independently of Newton, he was one of the greatest inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding multiplication and division operations in Pascal’s calculator, he was the first person to detail out pinwheel calculator. He remade the binary number system which today is the basis of all digital computers and gave numerous laws like Law of continuity and Transcendental law of Homogeneity which have huge mathematical implementation. A die hard optimist, he was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism.

4. Newton

The World recognizes Sir Isaac Newton as the greatest physicist of all times, Newton also counts among the greatest mathematicians of all times. The author of “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”, it was through this book, that Newton laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton is credited to be the co-inventor of the infinitesimal calculus. The generalised binomial theorem, valid for any exponent was developed by Newton. The contribution of this great mathematician to the theory of finite differences is substantial. He was also the pioneer in employing co-ordinate geometry in deriving solutions for Diophantine equations. The second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at University of Cambridge, Newton also became President of the Royal Society.

3. G. F. Bernhard Riemann

Born in a poor family of six children, Bernhard Reimann went on to become world’s greatest mathematicians in the 19th century. He made lasting contributions to a number of fields like analysis, number theory, differential geometry, some of them later helping in the development of general relativity. When his teacher Gauss asked him to prepare a Habilitationsschrift on geometry, he developed his theory of higher dimensions, this work went onto become a subject called Riemannian Geometry. He is most famous for his difficult Riemann Hypothesis, one of the greatest open questions in modern science. It is often said that even after death, Reimann’s work would pave way for new contributions in the field of mathematics, termed as ‘new mathematics’.

2. Carl Friedrich Gauss

Known as ‘Prince of Mathematics’ and the ‘greatest mathematician since antiquity’, this German mathematician significantly contributed to many fields including number theory, algebra, analysis, differential geometry, statistics and other domains of physics.  A calculating prodigy, Gauss wrote his first major work as a teenager only, Disquisitiones Arithmeticae. Further, he moved on to prove the fundamental theorem of algebra and worked on the Gaussian gravitational constant in Physics. Gauss also wrote on the theory of map projections. This great mathematician often largely concealed his ideas from his contemporaries however after Gauss’s death in 1855, the discovery of so many ideas among his unpublished papers extended his mark well into the remainder of the century.

1. Euler

Leonhard Euler was a revolutionarily great mathematician. This is Swiss mathematician’s discoveries spanned fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. Much of modern mathematical terminology and notation, used primarily in mathematical analysis, functions were introduced by this great mathematician. Foremost among the mathematicians of 18th century, Euler counts among the greatest mathematicians to have ever lived. Apart from maths, Euler to his credit has path-breaking work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics and astronomy. Euler’s influence on mathematics has been immortalised by these words of Pierre-Simon Laplace: “Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all.” Such is Euler’s mark, that he is the only mathematician to have two numbers named after him: the Euler’s Number in calculus, e, approximately equal to 2.71828, and the Euler Constant γ (gamma) sometimes referred to as just “Euler’s constant”, which approximately equals 0.57721.