Greatest Mathematicians of All Time

Isaac Newton


Carl Gauss

Leonhard Euler

Bernhard Riemann

Henri Poincaré

J.-L. Lagrange

David Hilbert


G.W. Leibniz

Alex. Grothendieck

Pierre de Fermat


The Greatest Mathematicians of All Time
ranked in approximate order of "greatness."
To qualify, the mathematician must be born before 1930 and his work must have
breadth, depth, and historical importance.

  1. Isaac Newton
  2. Archimedes
  3. Carl F. Gauss
  4. Leonhard Euler
  5. Bernhard Riemann
  1. Henri Poincaré
  2. Joseph-Louis Lagrange
  3. Euclid of Alexandria
  4. David Hilbert
  5. Gottfried W. Leibniz
  1. Alexandre Grothendieck
  2. Pierre de Fermat
  3. Évariste Galois
  4. John von Neumann
  5. Niels Abel

  1. Karl W. T. Weierstrass
  2. René Descartes
  3. Peter G. L. Dirichlet
  4. Carl G. J. Jacobi
  5. Srinivasa Ramanujan
  1. Augustin Cauchy
  2. Brahmagupta
  3. Georg Cantor
  4. Hermann K. H. Weyl
  5. Arthur Cayley
  1. Emma Noether
  2. Pythagoras of Samos
  3. Leonardo `Fibonacci'
  4. William R. Hamilton
  5. Aryabhata

At some point a longer list will become a List of Great Mathematicians rather than a List of Greatest Mathematicians. I've expanded the List to an even Hundred, but you may prefer to reduce it to a Top Seventy, Top Sixty, Top Fifty, Top Forty or Top Thirty list, or even Top Twenty, Top Fifteen or Top Ten List.

In compiling this list, I've considered contributions outside mathematics. I already give lower weight to breadth and influence in mathematical physics, but if I reduced the weight to zero, the List would be much different. Newton contributed little to number theory, but is considered to have breadth because of his physics, which is also his main influence. If only breadth and influence in pure mathematics are considered, Newton wouldn't be #1 (though still in the Top Ten).

  1. Charles Hermite
  2. Richard Dedekind
  3. Apollonius of Perga
  4. Pierre-Simon Laplace
  5. Muhammed al-Khowârizmi
  1. Kurt Gödel
  2. Diophantus of Alexandria
  3. Bháscara Áchárya
  4. Eudoxus of Cnidus
  5. Blaise Pascal
  1. Felix Christian Klein
  2. Jean le Rond d'Alembert
  3. Élie Cartan
  4. Hipparchus of Nicaea
  5. Godfrey H. Hardy

  1. Archytas of Tarentum
  2. Alhazen ibn al-Haytham
  3. Carl Ludwig Siegel
  4. Gaspard Monge
  5. Jacques Hadamard
  1. Andrey N. Kolmogorov
  2. Johannes Kepler
  3. Joseph Liouville
  4. Hermann G. Grassmann
  5. Julius Plücker
  1. F.E.J. Émile Borel
  2. François Viète
  3. Joseph Fourier
  4. Stefan Banach
  5. Jacob Bernoulli

  1. F. Gotthold Eisenstein
  2. Giuseppe Peano
  3. Liu Hui
  4. André Weil
  5. Jakob Steiner
  1. Jean-Victor Poncelet
  2. M. E. Camille Jordan
  3. Panini of Shalatula
  4. Bonaventura Cavalieri
  5. Christiaan Huygens
  1. Jean-Pierre Serre
  2. Pafnuti Chebyshev
  3. L.E.J. Brouwer
  4. James J. Sylvester
  5. Henri Léon Lebesgue

  1. Alan M. Turing
  2. Michael F. Atiyah
  3. Siméon-Denis Poisson
  4. Pappus of Alexandria
  5. Atle Selberg
  1. John E. Littlewood
  2. Johann Bernoulli
  3. Shiing-Shen Chern
  4. Hermann Minkowski
  5. Ernst E. Kummer

  1. George Pólya
  2. Felix Hausdorff
  3. F. L. Gottlob Frege
  4. Alfred Tarski
  5. Thales of Miletus
  1. George D. Birkhoff
  2. John Wallis
  3. Marius Sophus Lie
  4. Johann H. Lambert
  5. Adrien M. Legendre
  1. Daniel Bernoulli
  2. Omar al-Khayyám
  3. George Boole
  4. Israel M. Gelfand
  5. Simon Stevin

I've appended five additional names to the List of Seventy-five Greatest Mathematicians. Maxwell, Einstein, etc. are among the greatest applied mathematicians in history, but lack the importance as pure mathematicians to qualify for The Top 75. Nevertheless I'd want to include them in any longer list. Because of their ambiguous status, I've left these five without rank numbers.

I think One Hundred is a good list size, but it's not a multiple of fifteen, and I don't want to change the way I've formatted the list.   :-)     I've finally brought the List up to One Hundred Fifty; and that's the end of this project! For this extended list, I relax the birth-date rule slightly to include two greats born in the 1930's.




This webpage started as a Top Ten List, and it took a lot of reading by me to finally realize Leibniz and Grothendieck were the two I needed to add to get a Top Twelve. And on and on and on until the List has grown to 150 names! But the task seems increasingly overwhelming! I won't make the List any bigger than it already is, but I do solicit comments: Surely the 150 I've chosen are not the very very "greatest"!

My list is biased against modern mathematicians. An average 6+ on the List of 150 were born in each decade from 1800 to 1919, but only 4 born in the 1920's, 2 in the 1930's, and none more recently. I welcome submission of suggested names and mini-bios for more recent mathematicians.
Other Likely Contenders: Following are 50 more mathematicians if you prefer a List of 200. (Click here for an even longer List of 260.)       Ahmes   Al-Karaji   Al-Kindi   Aleksandrov   Apastambha   Babbage   Beltrami   Bhaskara.I   Bolyai   Bolzano   Boscovich   Brioschi   Chang   Copernicus   Courant   Dehn   Deligne   de.Moivre   Eratosthenes   Germain   L.Gersonides   Gibbs   Heron   ibn.Sinan   Lefschetz   Leray   Madhava   Mandelbrot   Mittag-Leffler   Nash   Perelman   Plato   Pontryagin   Roberval   Russell   Seki   Shannon   Shelah   Smale   Sturm   Tao   Tartaglia   Tate   Theaetetus   J.G.Thompson   Torricelli   Witten   Wittgenstein   Zariski   Zeno   Zhu  

This is primarily a list of Greatest Mathematicians of the Past, but I use 1930 birth as an arbitrary cutoff, and three of the "Top 100" are still alive as I write.

Click for a discussion of certain omissions. Please send me e-mail if you believe there's a major flaw in my rankings (or an error in any of the biographies). Obviously the relative ranks of, say Fibonacci and Ramanujan, will never satisfy everyone since the reasons for their "greatness" are different. I'm sure I've overlooked great mathematicians who obviously belong on this list. Please e-mail and tell me! (Sorry if mathematician "100." displays as "00." Either my html is flawed, or Microsoft I-E doesn't like lists longer than 99.)

(By the way, the ranking assigned to a mathematician will appear if you place the cursor atop the name at the top of his mini-bio.)

Biographies of the greatest mathematicians are in separate files by birth year:

(Or you can View the List and Bios as a single page.)

Go to a discussion of this list.
Go back to my home page.
Send me some e-mail.
This page is copyrighted (©) by James Dow Allen, 1998-2015.