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.

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 Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson.
23
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 2 John Forbes Nash Jr.

John Forbes Nash Jr..
11
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 3 Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson.
2
Famous As: 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.

 4 Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer.
8
Famous As: American musician
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.

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 5 Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon.
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Cryptographer
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.

 6 Kurt Gödel

Kurt Gödel.
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: April 28, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brno
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.

 7 James Harris Simons

James Harris Simons.
2
Famous As: Mathematicians & Hedge Fund Manager
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.

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 8 Edwin Powell Hubble

Edwin Powell Hubble.
0
Famous As: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birthdate: November 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marshfield, Missouri, USA
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.

 9 George Dantzig

George Dantzig
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Statistician
Birthdate: November 8, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Portland
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.

 10 Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky
5
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 24, 2016

 11 Manjul Bhargava

Manjul Bhargava.
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 8, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hamilton, Canada

 12 Norbert Wiener

Norbert Wiener.
0
Famous As: Father of Cybernetics
Birthdate: November 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Columbia, Missouri, United States
Died: March 18, 1964

 13 John McCarthy

John McCarthy
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: September 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston
Died: October 24, 2011

 14 Hilary Putnam

Hilary Putnam
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, University teacher, Non-fiction writer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: July 31, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: March 13, 2016

 15 Dorothy Vaughan

Dorothy Vaughan
22
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 16 Eugene Wigner

Eugene Paul .
0
Famous As: Physicist & Mathematician
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.

 17 Josiah Willard Gibbs

Josiah Willard Gibbs
0
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: February 11, 1839
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 28, 1903

 18 Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth.
4
Famous As: Computer Scientist
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.

 19 Stanislaw Ulam

Stanislaw Ulam
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 13, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lviv
Died: May 13, 1984

 20 Eric Weinstein

Eric Weinstein
2
Famous As: 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.

 21 David Rittenhouse

David Rittenhouse
0
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: April 8, 1732
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paper Mill Run, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 26, 1796

 22 Edward O. Thorp

Edward O. Thorp
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: August 14, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago

 23 Shing-Tung Yau

Shing-Tung Yau
0
Famous As: Mathematician, University teacher
Birthdate: April 4, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shantou

 24 Leslie Lamport

Leslie Lamport
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Programmer, Engineer, Writer
Birthdate: February 7, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City

 25 Bruce Schneier

Bruce Schneier
0
Famous As: Cryptographer, Mathematician, Computer scientist
Birthdate: January 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City

 26 Alonzo Church

Alonzo Church
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, University teacher, Computer scientist
Birthdate: June 14, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: August 11, 1995

 27 William J. Perry

William J. Perry
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 11, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, United States U.S.

 28 Percival Lowell

Percival Lowell
0
Famous As: 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.

 29 David Berlinski

David Berlinski
0
Famous As: philosopher, mathematician, university teacher
Birthdate: 1942 AD
Birthplace: New York City

 30 Jef Raskin

Jef Raskin
0
Famous As: Programmer, Computer scientist, Writer, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: March 9, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City
Died: February 26, 2005
One of the first employees of Apple Computer, Jef Raskin introduced the Macintosh project, to create a computer that was much less complex compared to the Apple II. Before joining Apple, he was a computer science teacher and a Stanford researcher. He was also a passionate music composer.

 31 Richard Hamming

Richard Hamming
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: February 11, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: January 7, 1998

 32 Alan Sokal

Alan Sokal
0
Famous As: 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.

 33 Whitfield Diffie

Whitfield Diffie
2
Famous As: Cryptographer, Mathematician, Computer scientist
Birthdate: June 5, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

 34 Edward Witten

Edward Witten
11
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher, Theoretical physicist
Birthdate: August 26, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore

 35 Richard Hamilton (Mathematician)

Richard Hamilton (Mathematician)
0
Birthdate: 1943 AD
Birthplace: Cincinnati

 36 George Pólya

George Pólya
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: September 7, 1985

 37 Daniel J. Bernstein

Daniel J. Bernstein
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Cryptologist, Programmer, University teacher, Computer scientist
Birthdate: October 29, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: East Patchogue

 38 Willard Van Orman Quine

Willard Van Orman Quine
0
Famous As: 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

 39 Mark Adler

Mark Adler
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Computer scientist
Birthdate: April 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Miami

 40 Edward Norton Lorenz

Edward Norton Lorenz
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 23, 1917
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: West Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 16, 2008

 41 John Backus

John Backus
0
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: December 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 17, 2007

 42 David Gale

David Gale
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Economist
Birthdate: December 13, 1921
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: March 7, 2008

 43 Leonard Kleinrock

Leonard Kleinrock
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Patent inventor, Professor
Birthdate: June 13, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

 44 Narendra Karmarkar

Narendra Karmarkar
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 24, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India

 45 Ronald Graham

Ronald Graham
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Juggler, Computer scientist
Birthdate: October 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Taft

 46 Haskell Curry

Haskell Curry
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 12, 1900
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Millis, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 1, 1982

 47 Sal Khan

Sal Khan
6
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: October 11, 1976
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Metairie, Louisiana, U.S.

What began as amateur math tutorials for his cousin later became Sal Khan’s dream project, the online education platform Khan Academy, which now has over 42 million users worldwide. Named to Time 100 in 2012, the American-born Bengali former hedge fund analyst is an MIT and Harvard alumnus.

 48 Rudolf E. Kálmán

Rudolf E. Kálmán
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: July 2, 2016

 49 Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Writer, Journalist, Literary critic, Science fiction writer, Stage magician
Birthdate: October 21, 1914
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tulsa
Died: May 22, 2010

 50 Raymond Smullyan

Raymond Smullyan
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Pianist, Philosopher, University teacher, Computer scientist, Stage magician, Scientist
Birthdate: May 25, 1919
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: February 6, 2017