# Famous American Mathematicians

Remember Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 movie on mathematics titled “Pi”? Yes, the same edge-of-seat flick about a mentally unstable mathematician who believes that mathematics is the language of the universe, that nature can be expressed in numbers and there are patterns everywhere around us. Well, now if you thought he was the only man to ever deem so, know that the world is filled with mathematicians who saw mathematics as an answer to all questions — existential and hypothetical. And no matter how much you deny this truth or loathe math, you cannot overlook its importance and impact in every aspect of our lives. From you kitchen faucet to the satellite that beams your TV, math is just everywhere. The world owes much of its breakthrough advancements to the computation geniuses of great mathematicians like Pythagoras, Descartes, Euclid and Euler. America, like everything else, too prides itself on its home-bred mathematicians who have made the world a better place with their outstanding mental ability. Read on to know their biography, timeline and also some trivia and facts.

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**Birthdate: **June 13, 1928

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **Bluefield, West Virginia, United States

**Died: **May 23, 2015

The inspiration behind the movie **A Beautiful Mind**, John F. Nash was a legendary mathematician whose work in the area of game theory earned him the **Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences**. In his later years, he was riddled with mental illness. He later died in a car crash.

2

John von Neumann(Great Mathematician Who Were Equally at Home in Pure and Applied Mathematics)

**Birthdate: **December 28, 1903

**Sun Sign: **Capricorn

**Birthplace: **Budapest, Hungary

**Died: **February 8, 1957

Hungarian-American scientist John von Neumann contributed to the development of game theory and the concept of self-replication. His work covered vast areas including math, economics, physics, and computer science. His research on nuclear physics led him to be part of the advisory committee of the **U.S. Atomic Energy Commission**.

3

Kurt Gödel(Mathematician, Philosopher and One of the Most Significant Logicians in History)

**Birthdate: **April 28, 1906

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Brno, Czech Republic

**Died: **January 14, 1978

Hailed as one of the greatest logicians since Aristotle, Kurt Gödel was Austrian-born American mathematician, logician, and philosopher, who earned international stardom for his *incompleteness theorem*. Also credited with developing a technique called *Gödel numbering*, he later started working on *Mathematical Platonism, *a philosophical theory that failed to attract wide acceptance.

4

Katherine Johnson(Mathematician and One of the First African-American Women to Work as a NASA Scientist)

**Birthdate: **August 26, 1918

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, United States

**Died: **February 24, 2020

Katherine Johnson was a physicist and mathematician, remembered as the first African-American female **NASA** scientist. Her calculations helped launch the space missions of Alan Shepard and John Glenn. She was crucial to the **Apollo **program and won a **Congressional Gold Medal** and a **Presidential Medal of Freedom** for her achievements.

5

Benoit Mandelbrot

(American Mathematician and Polymath Best Known for Popularizing the Concept of Fractal Geometry)

**Birthdate: **November 20, 1924

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Warsaw, Poland

**Died: **October 14, 2010

Noted mathematician and polymath, Benoit B. Mandelbrot is perhaps best known for his work on *fractal*. He not only coined the term, but also used computer-constructed images to illustrate the mathematical definition. Also credited with the discovery of *Mandelbrot set* and *Mandelbrot law, *he established that even those things which were apparently chaotic or rough had a "degree of order".

6

Mary Jackson

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **April 9, 1921

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Hampton, Virginia, United States

**Died: **February 11, 2005

American mathematician and aerospace engineer Mary Jackson went down in history as the first African-American woman to work as a **NASA **engineer. Initially a math teacher, she later joined** NACA** under Dorothy Vaughan and contributed to countless American space programs at a time when racial segregation was the norm.

**Birthdate: **April 9, 1928

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **New York, Manhattan

While he grew up to be a **Harvard **math professor, that didn’t stop Tom Lehrer from pursuing his childhood love for music. He gained fame as a satirical composer, with songs such as *So Long, Mom, I’m Off to Drop the Bomb* and *That Was The Year That Was*.

8

Terence Tao(One of the Greatest Living Mathematicians Who is Referred to as the 'Mozart of Mathematics')

**Birthdate: **July 17, 1975

**Sun Sign: **Cancer

**Birthplace: **Adelaide, Australia

Terence Tao is an Australian-American mathematician who works at the *University of California, Los Angeles* as a professor of mathematics. Widely considered one of the most prominent living mathematicians, Tao was honored with the prestigious *Fields Medal *in 2006. In 2014, he was awarded the *Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics*.

9

Claude Shannon(Mathematician, Engineer & Cryptographer Known as a 'Father of Information Theory')

**Birthdate: **April 30, 1916

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Petoskey, Michigan, United States

**Died: **February 24, 2001

Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer, mathematician, and cryptographer. He is credited with publishing the article *A Mathematical Theory of Communication* which gave rise to the field of information theory. Hence, Shannon is considered the *father of information theory.* He is also credited with founding digital circuit design theory. During *World War II*, he contributed to the field of cryptanalysis.

10

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar(Astrophysicist Known for his 'Theoritical Studies of the Physical processes of importance to the Structure and Evolution of the Stars')

**Birthdate: **October 19, 1910

**Sun Sign: **Libra

**Birthplace: **Lahore, Pakistan

**Died: **August 21, 1995

Remembered for his varied contribution to astrophysics, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is perhaps best known for his work on the evolution of massive stars. Today known as *Chandrasekhar limit*, it contributed to final understanding of supernovas, neutron stars, and black holes. A prolific writer, he also did significant work on energy transfer by radiation in stellar atmospheres and convection on solar surface.

11

Edwin Powell Hubble(American Astronomer Who is Regarded as the Leading Observational Cosmologist of the 20th Century)

**Birthdate: **November 20, 1889

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Marshfield, Missouri, United States

**Died: **September 28, 1953

While the *Hubble Telescope*, named after Edwin Powell Hubble, reminds one of his contribution to astronomy, he failed to get a **Nobel Prize**, as back in his time, the **Nobel Committee** didn’t recognize astrophysics as a valid science. He is best remembered for his work on galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

**Birthdate: **1938 AD

**Birthplace: **Newton

The son of a shoe factory owner, mathematician-turned-hedge-fund-manager James Harris Simons studied math at **MIT** and helped the U.S. break codes during the Vietnam War. He later founded his own hedge fund firm, **Renaissance Technologies**. He supports autism research and funds **Math for America**. In 2021, he was America’s 23rd-richest person.

13

Andrew Wiles

(Mathematician, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **April 11, 1953

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Cambridge

English mathematician Sir Andrew John Wiles, a **Royal Society** Research Professor at the **University of Oxford**, is best known for proving the *modularity theorem* for semistable elliptic curves, thereby proving *Fermat's Last Theorem* for which he was awarded the *Abel Prize* and the *Copley Medal* by the **Royal Society**. He also** **proved the main conjecture of *Iwasawa theory*.

14

Freeman Dyson

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **December 15, 1923

**Sun Sign: **Sagittarius

**Birthplace: **Crowthorne, England

**Died: **February 28, 2020

Freeman Dyson was a British-American theoretical and mathematical physicist, mathematician, and statistician. He made major contributions in the fields of quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, quantum mechanics, and nuclear physics. He originated the concept that went on to be known as Dyson's transform. He received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1986.

15

Marvin Minsky

(Mathematician, Computer scientist, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **August 9, 1927

**Sun Sign: **Leo

**Birthplace: **New York City

**Died: **January 24, 2016

16

Hilary Putnam

(Mathematician, Philosopher)

**Birthdate: **July 31, 1926

**Sun Sign: **Leo

**Birthplace: **Chicago, Illinois, United States

**Died: **March 13, 2016

17

George Dantzig

(Mathematician, Computer scientist, Statistician)

**Birthdate: **November 8, 1914

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Portland, Oregon, United States

**Died: **May 13, 2005

Mathematician George Dantzig, known for his research on linear programming, was the first to develop the *simplex method*. The **National Medal of Science **winner was the son of mathematician and linguist Tobias Dantzig. He was associated with **RAND Corporation** and also taught computer science and operations research at **Stanford**.

**Birthdate: **August 8, 1974

**Sun Sign: **Leo

**Birthplace: **Hamilton, Canada

19

John McCarthy

(Mathematician, Computer scientist, Engineer, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **September 4, 1927

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Boston

**Died: **October 24, 2011

**Birthdate: **November 26, 1894

**Sun Sign: **Sagittarius

**Birthplace: **Columbia, Missouri, United States

**Died: **March 18, 1964

**Birthdate: **February 15, 1861

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Ramsgate, Kent, England

**Died: **December 30, 1947

Alfred North Whitehead was a British mathematician and philosopher, best known for his collaboration with his student Bertrand Russell on *Principal of Mathematics*, a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics. Also known for his pioneering works on process philosophy and metaphysics, he is credited with developing a comprehensive metaphysical system that differs from most Western philosophies.

22

Eric Weinstein

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **October 26, 1965

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Los Angeles, California, United States

Apart from being the MD of **Thiel Capital**, mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein is also a researcher at **Oxford**. The **Harvard** alumnus had quit academia for 20 years before he returned again. He coined the term “intellectual dark web” and works on topics such as gauge theory, risk management, and immigration.

23

Donald Knuth(Mathematician and Computer Scientist Known for His Multivolume Series of Books “The Art of Computer Programming”)

**Birthdate: **January 10, 1938

**Sun Sign: **Capricorn

**Birthplace: **Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Mathematician and computer scientist Donald Ervin Knuth is best known for his contribution to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms. Also the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system as well as the WEB and CWEB computer programming systems, he has published twenty books, most significant among them being *The Art of Computer Programming*.

24

Dorothy Vaughan

(American Mathematician, Human Computer and the First African-American to Receive Promotion as Supervisor in NASA)

**Birthdate: **September 20, 1910

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Kansas City, Missouri, United States

**Died: **November 10, 2008

American mathematician Dorothy Vaughan was also known as a "human computer." Initially a math teacher, she became the first African-American supervisor of **NACA**, later part of **NASA**, at a time when racial segregation was rampant in the U.S. Her contribution to the early American space programs is invaluable.

25

Willard Van Orman Quine

(Mathematician, Analytic philosopher, Philosopher of language, Epistemologist, Philosopher of science, University teacher, Professor, Philosopher)

**Birthdate: **June 25, 1908

**Sun Sign: **Cancer

**Birthplace: **Akron

**Died: **December 25, 2000

26

Lotfi A. Zadeh

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **February 4, 1921

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Baku, Azerbaijan

**Died: **September 6, 2017

**Birthdate: **November 17, 1902

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Budapest, Hungary

**Died: **January 1, 1995

One of the “Martians,” or eminent Hungarian scientists who had migrated to the U.S., Eugene Wigner won a **Nobel Prize** for his work on nuclear physics and *the law of conservation of parity* in particular. He taught at **Princeton **and **Wisconsin **and was also associated with the **Manhattan Project**.

28

Josiah Willard Gibbs

(Scientist)

**Birthdate: **February 11, 1839

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **New Haven, Connecticut, United States

**Died: **April 28, 1903

Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist best remembered for making major theoretical contributions to mathematics, physics, and chemistry. As a mathematician, Gibbs is credited with inventing modern vector calculus. In 1901, he was honored with the prestigious *Copley Medal* for his contributions. Josiah Willard Gibbs's work had a major influence on physicists like J. D. van der Waals.

29

Leslie Lamport

(Mathematician, Computer scientist, Programmer, Engineer, Writer)

**Birthdate: **February 7, 1941

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **New York City

**Birthdate: **August 23, 1921

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **New York, New York, United States

**Died: **February 21, 2017

31

Edward O. Thorp

(Mathematician, Writer, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **August 14, 1932

**Sun Sign: **Leo

**Birthplace: **Chicago

32

Percival Lowell

(Astronomer, Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **March 13, 1855

**Sun Sign: **Pisces

**Birthplace: **Boston

**Died: **November 12, 1916

Born into the famous Brahmin Lowell family of Massachusetts, Percival Lowell studied at **Harvard**, where he excelled in math. He managed a cotton mill and also spent time in Asia as a diplomat. He is best remembered for initiating the discovery of* *Pluto and for studying the canals on Mars.

33

David Rittenhouse

(American Astronomer, Inventor, Clockmaker and Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **April 8, 1732

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

**Died: **June 26, 1796

American astronomer, inventor, mathematician, clockmaker and surveyor David Rittenhouse, who served as first director of the **United States Mint** and remained a member of the *American Philosophical Society*, made several significant breakthroughs for the US. His achievements include discovering the atmosphere of Venus and observing its transit, becoming the first American to sight Uranus, and completing an advanced orrery.

34

Shing-Tung Yau

(Mathematician, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **April 4, 1949

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Shantou

35

William J. Perry

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **October 11, 1927

**Sun Sign: **Libra

**Birthplace: **Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, United States U.S.

36

Martin Gardner

(Mathematician, Writer, Journalist, Literary critic, Science fiction writer, Stage magician)

**Birthdate: **October 21, 1914

**Sun Sign: **Libra

**Birthplace: **Tulsa

**Died: **May 22, 2010

37

Edward Witten

(Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher, Theoretical physicist)

**Birthdate: **August 26, 1951

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Baltimore

American mathematical and theoretical physicist Edward Witten is regarded as the practical founder of *M-theory*. His proof of positive energy theorem led him to become the first physicist who received the *Fields Medal* by **International Mathematical Union**. His research works mainly include the areas of string theory, supersymmetric quantum field theories and quantum gravity, besides other areas of mathematical physics.

38

Richard Hamilton (Mathematician)

(Known for Contributions to Geometric Analysis & Partial Differential Equations.)

**Birthdate: **January 10, 1943

**Sun Sign: **Capricorn

**Birthplace: **Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

39

Richard Hamming

(Contributions Include the Hamming Code, The Hamming Window & Hamming Numbers)

**Birthdate: **February 11, 1915

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Chicago, Illinois, United States

**Died: **January 7, 1998

40

Whitfield Diffie

(Cryptographer and one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography along with Martin Hellman and Ralph Merkle)

**Birthdate: **June 5, 1944

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **Washington, D.C., United States

41

John Wilder Tukey

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **June 16, 1915

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States

**Died: **July 26, 2000

42

Alfred Tarski

(Polish-American Logician and Mathematician Best Known for His Work on Model Theory, Metamathematics, and Algebraic Logic)

**Birthdate: **January 14, 1901

**Sun Sign: **Capricorn

**Birthplace: **Warsaw, Poland

**Died: **October 26, 1983

Polish mathematician Alfred Tarski initially taught at Warsaw and later moved to the US, where he joined the **University of California, Berkeley**. Known for his research on topics such as algebra, logic, and set theory, he has also been the doctoral supervisor of mathematicians such as Julia Robinson and Bjarni Jónsson.

43

David Berlinski

(philosopher, mathematician, university teacher)

**Birthdate: **1942 AD

**Birthplace: **New York City

44

Stanislaw Ulam

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **April 13, 1909

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Lviv

**Died: **May 13, 1984

Stanislaw Ulam was a Polish-American scientist best remembered for his expertise in the fields of nuclear physics and mathematics. He played an important role during the Second World War, working together with other scientists and mathematicians in the* **Manhattan Project*. He is also credited with originating the *Teller–Ulam design*, the basis for all thermonuclear weapons.

45

Charles Proteus Steinmetz

(German Mathematician and Engineer Whose Research on AC Systems Revolutionized the US Electric Industry)

**Birthdate: **April 9, 1865

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Wrocław

**Died: **October 26, 1923

Though German-born American mathematician and engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz suffered from a deformed back since childhood, he excelled in math, physics, and classical literature. His ideas on alternating current (AC) systems initiated the electrical era in the US. By the time he died, he had over 200 patents under his name.

46

Alan Sokal

(Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **January 24, 1955

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Boston

**New York University **physics professor Alan Sokal made headlines for creating what is now known as the *Sokal Hoax*. He wrote gibberish using flowery jargon and submitted it to the journal *Social Text*, which published it as postmodernist criticism, thus proving the lack of credibility of such journals.

47

Daniel J. Bernstein

(Mathematician, Cryptologist, Programmer, University teacher, Computer scientist)

**Birthdate: **October 29, 1971

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **East Patchogue

48

David Gale

(Mathematician, Economist)

**Birthdate: **December 13, 1921

**Sun Sign: **Sagittarius

**Birthplace: **New York City

**Died: **March 7, 2008

49

Alonzo Church

(Mathematician, Philosopher, University teacher, Computer scientist)

**Birthdate: **June 14, 1903

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **Washington, D.C.

**Died: **August 11, 1995

50

Bruce Schneier

(Cryptographer, Mathematician, Computer scientist)

**Birthdate: **January 15, 1963

**Sun Sign: **Capricorn

**Birthplace: **New York City