Mathematics goes back a long way in history, and evidence of this has been found thousands of years ago shown by carvings in wood and stone, probably used by traders in one way or another. The first evidence we have of what we would class as a mathematician is around 3000 BC in Babylon and was based around numbers working in multiples of 10, as we still do today. Egyptian documents clearly show that they were very advanced and this is proven by the calculations they used to build such things as the pyramids.
Since Egyptian times mathematics has progressed and is now used to describe almost everything we know. Take a look in your bathroom, the toilet was made because of math, and it works because of the physical properties taken into account using mathematical formulae. The GPS in your phone or car works because of math, astronomy relies a lot on math, and so does physics. Without it we would exist in a time stuck somewhere between living in caves and the dawn of the Egyptians.
Selecting the top 10 most famous mathematicians is not an easy task with so many of them having made a mark on the progression of the human race, and the fact that the list has to include people that existed around 5000 years ago. Even if a top 100 list was done on the same subject, then hundreds who should get a mention would have to be left out. The importance of these people on history can never be overrated, for each part they played in the advancement of mathematics made us all who we are today.
Below you will find what are considered the top 10 most famous mathematicians for the purpose of this article, you may well disagree with some of them, but you will agree on others, we all have our own opinions when it comes to which mathematicians have helped shape our world the most.
10. Carl Friedrich Gauss
Born in 1777, Gauss was a master at math in his time and was often referred to as the ‘Prince of Mathematics’. Most of his work only came to light after his death in 1855, although he published some of his findings most of what he figured out was kept to himself. Only now do we realize what an intelligent person he was with the availability of his documents. He is known for the Gaussian distribution.
Hypatia was born in 375, and being a woman in this field was very rare. She was a scholar in Alexandria and is known for the updates she provided of Euklid’s 13 books of The Elements. She died in 415, and was found murdered with most of her flesh removed and her limbs removed, although another account says she was dragged through the street naked until she died and then her body burnt, either way it was a terrible end to such an intelligent woman.
8. Leonhard Euler
Regarded by some as the best mathematician to have ever existed, Euler was born in 1707, and lived a good life till his death in 1783. Due to the formulas he discovered on many aspects of math he can be regarded to be in the same class as Einstein. He founded so many parts of what we consider as normal mathematics these days that without him we wouldn’t have progressed to the point of using computers the way we do today.
7. Andrew Wiles
A recent mathematician born in 1953, and still alive today, he is well-known for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. He spent years locked away working on his proof only to be informed that it contained an error so he went and hid away again until he had the proof correct, which was then accepted by the mathematical community. Although he may be regarded as a small player in this field, his theorem has proved its usefulness over the years.
This Frenchman was born in 1595 and lived until 1650, and is one of the people who made contributions to the calculus we know of today. He also developed Cartesian Geometry, which to you and me is what we would call a graph with its x and y axis, along with algebra which is used to describe certain points on a graph. He nailed his place in history with his reasoning of superscripts used to express powers within algebra.
5. Euklid Von Alexandria
Born somewhere around 300 BC, he spent most of his life producing the 13 books ‘The Elements’ which has been a mathematical bible ever since. He is now known as the ‘Father of Geometry’ and lay a lot of the foundations of the math and science of today.
4. Archimedes of Syracuse
Born in 287, every schoolchild of the modern age should at least recognize the name, if not what he is famous for, which is that he advanced our understanding of algebra, number theory, and analysis. He studied under Euklid and went on not only to further his teachers work, but to prove other mathematician’s formulas as well as his own.
3. Alan Turing
Born in 1912 Alan was an exceptional cryptanalyst and computer scientist. He spent most of World War 2 working as a code-breaker for the British government. It was Alan that discovered many of the ways to crack the German codes which helped to shorten the war, and save thousands of lives. The Turing Test is today used to measure the artificial intelligence of computer systems.
2. Isaac Newton
Newton may be more well-known for physics by the general public but it was math that he excelled in. Born in 1642 his infinitesimal calculus has made a massive contribution to the field of mathematics. Also known for his work in science and topology, many of his discoveries are still used today.
Known throughout history for his Pythagorean Theorem since his life from 570 to 495 BC, he is the one responsible for the field of trigonometry. This theorem is still used and he is No.1 in this top 10 most famous mathematicians list for good reasons. His proofs have been so successful that he is now regarded as the Father of Modern Mathematics.