Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős spent most of his childhood at home, due to his mother’s overprotectiveness after his sisters died of scarlet fever. Known for his eccentricity, he used his own vocabulary. His contributions include the Ramsey theory, and he skipped many university job offers to continue working independently.
Hungarian-American mathematician Theodore von Karman is best known for his research on aeronautics. Born to a professor father, Karman was a math prodigy in childhood and was pushed into engineering. He was also the first recipient of the National Medal of Science. A bachelor for life, he lived with his mother and sister.
Known as the father of problem solving in math, mathematician George Pólya taught at ETH Zürich and Stanford, and was one of The Martians who moved from Hungary to the US. His book How to Solve It became widely popular with students of math. Three prizes were later named after him.
Born in Hungary, Paul Halmos moved to the US with his family at 13. While he initially set out to complete a PhD in philosophy, he later focused on math. One of The Martians from Hungary, he is known for his contributions to areas such as logic, probability, and statistics.
Hungarian-American mathematician and computer scientist John G. Kemeny is remembered for his pathbreaking co-discovery of BASIC computer language. Though he and his parents managed to escape the Nazis by fleeing to the US, he lost his grandfather to the Holocaust. He also worked on the Manhattan Project.
Abel Prize-winning Hungarian-American mathematician Peter Lax is remembered for his pathbreaking research on the partial differential equation and its application. He initilly worked for the US’s Manhattan Project and then taught at the New York University and even became the director of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
Hungarian-born mathematician Raoul Bott is best remembered for his significant contribution to differential geometry and topology. He grew up in Czechoslovakia, the US, and Canada, and he also served the Canadian Army during World War II. He later taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan.
Abel Prize-winning mathematician and computer scientist Endre Szemerédi initially aspired to be a doctor but later quit his medical studies and took up a factory job. He then switched to math and eventually earned a PhD in the subject, taught at Rutgers University, and developed theorems on topics such as arithmetic progression.
University of Chicago professor László Babai is best known for his research on topics such as complexity theory, finite groups, and algorithms. He has authored almost 200 academic papers and has been the editor-in-chief of Theory of Computing. His numerous honors include the Gödel Prize and the Hungarian State Prize.
Hungarian mathematician Frigyes Riesz is largely regarded as a pioneer of functional analysis. He taught at a number of institutes such as the University of Szeged and also co-founded the journal Acta Scientiarum Mathematicarum. His lectures involved an assistant and a docent, quite unusual for his time.
Hungarian physicist and mathematician Johann Andreas Segner is largely remembered for introducing the concept of surface tension of liquids. Initially a physician, he later became the University of Göttingen’s first professor of math. His inventions include the Segner wheel, a form of water turbine resembling the modern-day lawn sprinkler.