Here’s our alphabetical list of the most popular mathematicians or contributors to mathematics on the Famous Scientists website, ordered by surname.
Founded the sciences of mechanics and hydrostatics, calculated pi precisely, devised the law of exponents, created new geometrical proofs, invented numerous ingenious mechanical devices, and more.
Discovered the Bernoulli Effect explaining how aircraft wings generate lift; formulated a kinetic theory relating particle speeds in gases to temperature; made major discoveries in the theory of risk.
Established zero as a number and defined its mathematical properties; discovered the formula for solving quadratic equations.
One of the greatest philosophers of all time; advocate of skepticism in the scientific method; creator of new mathematical ideas including the independent founding of analytical geometry. Cartesian coordinates are named in his honor.
Accurately calculated Earth’s size 2,500 years ago; founded the science of geography; and devised the famous prime number sieve.
Published more mathematics than any other single mathematician, much of it groundbreaking. An astonishing fraction of the total research work in mathematics and the physical sciences between 1730 and 1780 was carried out solely by Euler.
Co-founded the disciplines of analytic geometry and probability theory and was a key player in the invention of calculus. There’s more to Fermat than his famous last theorem.
The rebirth of Western mathematics: Fibonacci’s Book of Calculation introduced the Indian number system, now used worldwide, to Europe.
Invented experimental design; devised the statistical concept of variance; unified evolution by natural selection with Mendel’s rules of inheritance, so defining the new field of population genetics.
The last master of all mathematics, Gauss revolutionized number theory and invented the method of least squares and the fast Fourier transform. His profound contributions to the physical sciences include Gauss’s Law & Gauss’s Law for Magnetism.
Self-taught mathematican who pretended she was a man. Developed elasticity theory and made significant progress in her personal program to prove Fermat’s last theorem.
Gibbs invented vector analysis and founded the sciences of modern statistical mechanics and chemical thermodynamics.
Transformed algebra from a field based mainly on word equations to today’s concise discipline based on symbols. Probably first person to observe sunspots with a telescope, allowing him to determine the sun’s rotation rate.
Famed for his 23 problems, Hilbert propelled mathematics to new heights. He replaced Euclid’s axioms dating from 2,000 years earlier, allowing the unification of 2D and 3D geometry; and he created Hilbert Space, now essential in advanced physical science.
One of antiquity’s greatest scientists: founded the mathematical discipline of trigonometry; measured the earth-moon distance accurately; discovered the precession of the equinoxes; and documented the positions and magnitudes of over 850 stars. His combinatorics work was unequalled until 1870.
Pioneer of electronic computers: invented the first compiler; was the principal architect of COBOL, the most widely used computer language of the twentieth century.
A poet, philosopher and scientist, Khayyam calculated the length of a year to the most accurate value ever, and showed how the intersections of conic sections can be utilized to yield geometric solutions of cubic equations.
Discovered the solar system’s planets follow elliptical paths; identified the tides are caused mainly by the moon; proved how logarithms work; discovered the inverse square law of light intensity; his laws of planetary motion led Newton to his law of gravitation.
The mother of computing science; contributed to the first published computer program; was the first person to see that computers could do more than mathematical calculations, recognizing that musical notes and letters of the alphabet could be turned into numbers for manipulation by computers.
Profoundly changed our understanding of nature with his law of universal gravitation and his laws of motion; invented calculus, the field of mathematics that dominates the physical sciences; generalized the binomial theorem; built the first ever reflecting telescope; showed sunlight is made of all the colors of the rainbow.
Probably the greatest female mathematician in history, Noether’s theorem revealed a fundamental property of our universe, that for every conservation law there is an invariant. Her founding work in abstract algebra revolutionized mathematics.
Believed the universe was constructed using mathematics and everything could be described with numbers; established a link between mathematics and music; proved Pythagoras’s theorem; discovered irrational numbers; discovered the Platonic Solids.
A largely self-taught pure mathematician, he enriched number theory with thousands of new identities, equations and theorems.
Transformed geometry with curved space and n-dimensional space providing the mathematical foundation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity; provided the first rigorous definition of the integral; the Riemann hypothesis has become the most famous unresolved problem in mathematics – its holy grail.
Founded the modern science of ballistics; refuted Aristotle’s claim that air sustained motion; provided general solutions for cubic equations.
The first scientist in history, Thales looked for patterns in nature to explain the way the world worked. He replaced superstitions with science. He was the first person to use deductive logic to find new results in geometry.