Many have referred to math as the language of nature and the universe because it is so fundamental to how we understand the world. As we look at the world around us and all that mankind has achieved, we can attribute most of it to our mathematical skills as a society. Everything from our light bulbs, our computers, airplanes and automobiles are here because of math.
And because of these wonderful accomplishments, we have many great mathematicians to thank for paving the way. None of these things would’ve been possible without the work and brilliance of these great mathematicians. With that said, let us examine the 7 greatest mathematicians of all time.
Leonardo Pisano Blgollo
Blgollo is one of the greatest minds from the Middle Ages as he lived from 1170 to 1250. He is also referred to as Leonardo Fibonacci because he introduced the famous Fibonacci sequence to society. It was an amazing number sequence that appears in the world in many instances – even biological systems. In addition to this, the Fibonacci also led to the development of Arabic number system to the western world, which is an accomplishment that is sadly forgotten.
After spending his childhood in North Africa where he learned about the Arabic number system, he realized that it was much more intuitive and simpler than inefficient Roman numerals. In Italy during 1202, he would publish the Liber Abaci which formally introduced these Arabic numbers and applied them to many actual circumstances. Needless to say, he actually built the foundation upon which the modern mathematics stands on today.
The brilliant cryptanalyst and computer scientist Alan Turing is considered to be the greatest mathematician of the 20th Century. As he worked for the Government Code and Cypher School from Britain throughout World War 2, Turing made astonishing discoveries and developed several ground breaking techniques of breaking code that would ultimately lead them to solving the German Enigma Encryptions. This greatly affected the war’s outcome.
When the war ended, Turing devoted his efforts to the world of computing. Too many, he is looked upon as the first computer scientist. He went on to author several amazing papers about computer science which are currently still relevant today.
The great French Physicist, Philosopher and Mathematician Rene Descartes is actually most famous for his ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ philosophy. However this Frenchman, who lived from 1596 to 1650, made several incredible contributions to the field of mathematics. He actually built the foundations for modern calculus, which was monumental.
Perhaps his greatest achievement was the creation of Cartesian Geometry, which gave us the standard graph, along with using algebra to identify the numeric on such graphs. Prior to this, geometers were using plain paper. Prior to this, these distances were measured literally.
Euclid lived sometime around 300 BC and is seen as the Father of Geometry and his famous “Elements”, which is one the most significant mathematical publications in all of history. It is still being used by educators today. Sadly, not very much is known or recorded about his life, and the things that are on record was actually written well after he died.
Euclid is also known for his logical proofs for conjectures and theorems. The framework he developed for these proofs are still used by mathematicians today. Because of this, many believe he has influenced more mathematicians than anyone in history.
Euler lived from the year 1707 to 1783 and is seen one of the greatest mathematicians to have ever lived. During his times, he was seen as the man having “Einstein like” genius. One of his most notable contributions was introducing mathematical notations like the “function” concept and the manner in which it was written (f(x)). He also created the same for trig functions, the use of “I” for imaginary units, and the use of “e” for natural logarithms (which is called the Euler Constant). This shorthand approach to derivations made the field of mathematics much more efficient.
In addition, he went to further to develop topology, calculus, analysis, number theory and graph theory and much more. He also ushered in modern mathematics which has increased the creation of numerous industrial and technological advancements.
In the year 1687, Newton published perhaps the greatest scientific books in all of history, which is the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and is commonly referred to as the Principa. It was within this famous work where he introduced his legendary three laws of motion.
In order to simply his theories about gravity and motion, Newton created a specialized new form of mathematics. This was originally called “fluxions,” and later became calculus. This mathematical approach charts variables within nature that are undergoing constant change. While calculus has been hated by countless students in high school and college, it has proven to be a valuable tool for centuries of engineers, mathematicians and scientists.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Gauss was a child prodigy who made his very first major mathematical discovery as a teenager. He authored the amazing Disquisitiones Arithmeticae at the young age of 21. His incredible mental ability has been legendary for centuries. It is said that he added the numbers 1 through 100 in a matter of seconds as a very young student in primary school – with the aid of a formula he derived on the spot.
A local Duke who recognized his amazing talent had him sent to Collegium Carolinum, which was the most prestigious university for mathematicians in the world at that time. He graduated in the year 1798 when he was 22. From that point, he started making numerous critical contributions in his field of mathematics – especially in the area of number theory.
Gauss went about proving algebra’s fundamental theorem, and developed the Gaussian gravitational constant in the field of physics, and much more – all these things were accomplished by the time he was only 24. This is also the Gaussian distribution in the field of statistics. He continued working until he died at 77 years of age, and made several major advances in mathematics.