Famous 16th Century Mathematicians

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Mathematicians, including Galileo Galilei, René Déscartes, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler and John Napier.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Johannes Kepler
(Astronomer Best Known for his Laws of Plantery Motion)

Johannes Kepler
16
Birthdate: December 27, 1571
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Weil der Stadt, Germany
Died: November 15, 1630

This 17th-century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer is remembered for his pathbreaking work on optics. He invented a developed version of the refracting telescope. He also laid down Kepler's laws of planetary motion and wrote Astronomia Nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae.

 2 
Galileo Galilei
(Astronomer)

Galileo Galilei
6
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
Died: January 8, 1642

An Italian astronomer, engineer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the father of observational astronomy, the father of the scientific method, the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science. He is credited with popularizing the telescope, which changed the course of history.

 3 
John Napier
(Inventor of Logarithms)

John Napier
6
Birthdate: February 1, 1550
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Merchiston Tower, Edinburgh
Died: April 4, 1617

John Napier was a Scottish mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. He is credited with introducing logarithms as a means of simplifying calculations. He also invented Napier's bones, a manually-operated calculating device. In addition to his interest in mathematics, John Napier was also known for his skills as a magician; it is said that he dabbled in necromancy and alchemy.

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 4 
Nicolaus Copernicus
(Mathematician)

Nicolaus Copernicus
9
Birthdate: February 19, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Toruń, Poland
Died: May 24, 1543

Nicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with formulating Heliocentrism, which led to the Copernican Revolution. Although Aristarchus of Samos had formulated Heliocentrism 18 centuries earlier, Copernicus was responsible for popularizing it. Copernicus is also credited with formulating an economic principle, which was later called Gresham's law.

 5 

Gerolamo Cardano
4
Birthdate: September 24, 1501
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pavia, Italy
Died: September 21, 1576

Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano is best known for his iconic work Ars magna, or The Great Art, which contributed immensely to the field of algebra. Throughout his illustrious life, he had been a physician, a math lecturer, and an astrologer. He was also the first to describe typhus fever clinically.

 6 
Giordano Bruno
(Philosopher & Mathematician Known For His Cosmological Theories)

Giordano Bruno
6
Birthdate: September 24, 1501, 1548
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nola, Italy
Died: February 17, 1600

Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, friar, mathematician, cosmological theorist, poet, and Hermetic occultist. Best remembered for his cosmological theories, Bruno insisted that the universe could have no center as it is infinite. In 2004, Herbert Steffen founded the Giordano Bruno Foundation in Bruno's honor.

 7 
John Dee
(Mathematician, Philosopher)

John Dee
13
Birthdate: July 13, 1527
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tower Ward, London
Died: February 29, 1609

Anglo-Welsh mathematician, occultist, astronomer, teacher, astrologer and alchemist John Dee is best-remembered as advisor to Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Dee coined the term British Empire and advocated its formation by founding of English colonies in the New World. He had one of the largest libraries in England at the time and wrote on astrology, geography, trigonometry, navigation and calendar reform.

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 8 
Robert Recorde
(mathematician, physician, physicist, philosopher)

Robert Recorde
3
Birthdate: 1512 AD
Birthplace: Tenby
Died: 1558 AD

 9 
Simon Stevin
(mathematician, engineer, military personnel)

Simon Stevin
3
Birthdate: 1548 AD
Birthplace: Bruges
Died: January 31, 1620

Simon Stevin was a Flemish physicist, mathematician, and military engineer. He is best remembered for his contributions to various fields of science and engineering. Simon Stevin is also credited with several discoveries and inventions. He pioneered the practical application of surveying and hydraulic engineering. 

 10 
Marin Mersenne
(Mathematician)

Marin Mersenne
4
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé, France
Died: September 1, 1648

 11 
François Viète
(Mathematician whose work on new algebra)

François Viète
3
Birthdate: 1540 AD
Birthplace: Fontenay-le-Comte, France
Died: February 23, 1603

 12 
Pierre Gassendi
(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)

Pierre Gassendi
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.

 13 
Robert Fludd
(Physician)

Robert Fludd
4
Birthdate: January 17, 1574
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bearsted, England
Died: September 8, 1637

Best remembered for his study of occult philosophy, Robert Fludd, the son of English diplomat Sir Thomas Fludd, was also a physician. However, he was criticized for being a medical professional who believed in magic and defended Rosicrucianism. His other interests included cosmology, astrology, and Freemasonry.

 14 

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia
2
Birthdate: 1499 AD
Birthplace: Brescia, Italy
Died: December 13, 1557

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia was the first to apply math to the science of ballistics. During the French invasion of Brescia, his jaw was sliced by a sword, causing him a speech difficulty, and thus gaining him the nickname Tartaglia, or "Stammerer." His Nova Scientia remains a significant work on mechanics.

 15 
Thomas Harriot
(Mathematician, explorer, astronomer)

Thomas Harriot
3
Birthdate: 1560 AD
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: July 2, 1621

 16 
William Oughtred
(mathematician, inventor, minister)

William Oughtred
2
Birthdate: March 5, 1575
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Eton
Died: June 30, 1660

 17 
Willebrord Snell
(Astronomer & Mathematician)

Willebrord Snell
2
Birthdate: June 13, 1580
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leiden, Dutch Republic
Died: October 30, 1626

Willebrord Snell was a Dutch mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with rediscovering the law of refraction, which is named Snell's law in his honor. A much-revered mathematician in the Netherlands, Willebrord Snell was honored by the Royal Netherlands Navy by naming three of its survey ships after him. Snellius, a lunar crater, is also named in his honor.

 18 
Xu Guangqi
(Mathematician, Astronomer, Politician)

Xu Guangqi
2
Birthdate: April 24, 1562
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shanghai, Songjiang, Southern Zhili, China
Died: November 8, 1633

 19 
Christopher Clavius
(Mathematician)

Christopher Clavius
2
Birthdate: March 25, 1538
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
Died: February 6, 1612

Christopher Clavius was a Jesuit German astronomer and mathematician. Clavius was one of the members of the Vatican commission that gave a green signal to Aloysius Lilius' calendar which came to be known as the Gregorian calendar. He was one of Europe's most respected astronomers; his books were used for over 50 years for astronomical education in and around Europe.

 20 
Petrus Ramus
(Philosopher)

Petrus Ramus
2
Birthdate: 1515 AD
Birthplace: Picardy, France
Died: August 26, 1572

 21 
Pierre Vernier
(Mathematician)

Pierre Vernier
2
Birthdate: August 19, 1580
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ornans, France
Died: September 14, 1637

 22 
Henry Briggs
(Mathematician)

Henry Briggs
2
Birthdate: February 1, 1561
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warleywood, Yorkshire, England
Died: January 26, 1630

 23 
Gemma Frisius
(Physician)

Gemma Frisius
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1508
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dokkum, Netherlands
Died: May 25, 1555

Gemma Frisius introduced the triangulation method for map-making, that is still an integral part of surveys these days. He also created detailed globes and mathematical instruments and was a co-founder of the Netherlandish school of cartography. He also released the first published drawing of a pinhole camera obscura.

 24 
Pedro Nunes
(Mathematician)

Pedro Nunes
1
Birthdate: 1502 AD
Birthplace: Alcácer do Sal, Portugal
Died: August 11, 1578

 25 
Thomas Digges
(Mathematician)

Thomas Digges
1
Birthdate: 1546 AD
Birthplace: Wootton, Kent, England
Died: August 24, 1595

 26 
Benedetto Castelli
(Mathematician)

Benedetto Castelli
1
Birthdate: 1578 AD
Birthplace: Brescia, Italy
Died: April 9, 1643

Benedetto Castelli, a Benedictine priest and a student of Galileo, later became a math professor at the University of Pisa. His On the Measurement of Water Currents is considered a fundamental work in hydraulics. He was the first to work on the principle of the barometer and sustained vacuum.

 27 
Georg Joachim Rheticus
(Mathematician)

Georg Joachim Rheticus
1
Birthdate: February 16, 1514
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Feldkirch, Austria
Died: December 4, 1574

Having lost his doctor father to an execution after he was charged with stealing from his patients, Georg Joachim Rheticus ditched his paternal surname. The Austrian-born mathematician is best remembered for his tables of trigonometric functions. He was also one of the first to propagate the Copernican heliocentric theory.

 28 
Edmund Gunter
(Mathematician)

Edmund Gunter
1
Birthdate: 1581 AD
Birthplace: Hertfordshire, England
Died: December 10, 1626

Petrus Apianus
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Petrus Apianus was a German humanist whose published works pertaining to geography and astronomy are considered one of the most important works of his time. His works, such as Cosmographicus liber (1524) and Astronomicum Caesareum (1540), which were translated into several languages were being published even after his death.

Jost Bürgi
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Ludolph van Ceulen
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Hildesheim

 32 
Juan de Herrera
(Architect)

Juan de Herrera
1
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: Roiz, Spain
Died: January 15, 1597

 33 
Scipione del Ferro
(Mathematician)

Scipione del Ferro
1
Birthdate: February 6, 1465
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: November 5, 1526

Scipione del Ferro was the first to find a technique to solve the depressed cubic equation x3 + px = q. He taught arithmetic and geometry throughout his life and also contributed to the study of fractions that had irrational denominators. Unfortunately, none of his written works exist anymore.

 34 
Girard Desargues
(Mathematician)

Girard Desargues
1
Birthdate: February 21, 1591
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 31, 1661

One of the founders of projective geometry, French mathematician Girard Desargues began his career as an architect and an engineer, designing several private and public buildings in Paris and Lyon and also a project for lifting water. Eventually he became associated with a group of Parisian mathematicians and undertook researches on perspective and geometrical projections, publishing several papers on it.

 35 
Michael Maestlin
(Astronomer)

Michael Maestlin
1
Birthdate: September 30, 1550
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Göppingen, Germany
Died: October 26, 1631

Once a Lutheran pastor, Michael Maestlin later became one of the greatest astronomers from Germany. He was one of the first to teach the heliocentric Copernican theory and later became famous as the mentor of Johannes Kepler. He was also apparently the first to measure the orbit of a comet.

 36 
Aloysius Lilius
(Astronomer)

Aloysius Lilius
1
Birthdate: 1510 AD
Birthplace: Cirò, Calabria, Italy
Died: 1576 AD

Aloysius Lilius, also known as Luigi Lilio, is best remembered as the main author of the Gregorian Calendar. Well-versed in medicine and astronomy, Lilius hailed from Calabria, Italy, though not much is known about his life. His calendar was presented to Pope Gregory XIII by his brother Antonio.

 37 
Camillo Agrippa
(Mathematician)

Camillo Agrippa
1
Birthdate: 1520 AD
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: January 1, 1600

Camillo Agrippa was a renowned 16th-century swordfighter who redefined the art of combat by applying geometric principles to it. He apparently also inspired the Spanish swordfight Destreza. Agrippa was also a skilled architect and mathematician. His written works include Treatise on the Science of Arms with Philosophical Dialogue.

Francesco Maurolico
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Erasmus Reinhold
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD

Al-Birjandi
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD

 41 
Georg Stiernhielm
(Civil servant)

Georg Stiernhielm
0
Birthdate: August 7, 1598
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vika, Sweden
Died: April 22, 1672

Swedish civil servant and author Georg Stiernhielm is regarded as the father of Swedish poetry. Best known for his epic poem Hercules, he had also penned works on philology and history and was a mathematician, too. He also laid stress on the use of Swedish words, eliminating foreign words from his vocabulary.

 42 
John Bainbridge
(Astronomer)

John Bainbridge
0
Birthdate: 1582 AD
Birthplace: Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England
Died: November 3, 1643

Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin
0
Birthdate: September 22, 1547
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Klettgau, Germany
Died: November 29, 1590

German mathematician, astronomer, poet, and Renaissance humanist Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin began his career as a professor of poetry and history and later studied the works of Virgil. He was later arrested for defamation and imprisoned at a fortress. He fell to his death while trying to escape his cell.

 44 

Michael Stifel
1
Birthdate: 1487 AD
Birthplace: Esslingen, Germany
Died: April 19, 1567

German mathematician Michael Stifel was also a staunch Lutheran. He became a monk in his 20s. Apart from explaining algebra in German, he penned Arithmetica Integra, which detailed his work in logarithms. He was also one of the first to have used the + and – signs.

 45 
Jacques Besson
(Inventor)

Jacques Besson
0
Birthdate: 1540 AD
Birthplace: Italy
Died: 1573 AD

 46 

Jacques Peletier
0
Birthdate: July 25, 1517
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Le Mans, France
Died: July 17, 1582

 47 
Zhi zao Li
(Mathematician)

Zhi zao Li
2
Birthdate: 1565 AD
Birthplace: Hangzhou, China
Died: December 1, 1630