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.
Polish mathematician-cryptologist Marian Rejewski is noted for reconstructing the sight-unseen German military Enigma cipher machine and solving Enigma-machine cipher using limited documents that the French military intelligence managed to obtain. He and his colleagues developed and applied methods and equipment for decrypting the German machine ciphers which gave Britain an opportunity to read German Enigma-encrypted messages during Second World War.
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.
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.
Raised by foster parents, Stefan Banach ended up getting an engineering degree. During World War I, his eyesight rendered him unfit for military service, and so he taught at schools. He later gained fame for his pioneering research on functional analysis and also helped develop the concept of the Banach space.
Polish mathematician and statistician Jerzy Neyman is remembered for pioneering theoretical statistics and also taught at prestigious institutes such as UCB and UCL. The National Medal of Science winner established the theories of estimation and hypotheses testing, which have been widely used in areas such as medicine and genetics.
German mathematician Leopold Kronecker is best remembered for his pioneering work on the theory of equations and algebra. Interestingly, he wasn’t too keen on academic research initially and focused on his land business, while simultaneously pursuing math as a hobby. He could only focus on math after retiring at 30.
Born in Moscow, Polish economist Leonid Hurwicz initially studied law but fled to the US during World War II. He was later associated with the MIT, among other prestigious institutes, and won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his pioneering contribution to the mechanism design theory.
One of the pioneering figures of the Polish school of mathematics, Wacław Sierpiński made revolutionary contributions to point-set topology. He withheld an award-winning essay on number theory, so that it could be printed in Polish instead of Russian. He spent most of his life teaching at the University of Warsaw.
While German mathematician Felix Hausdorff initially wished to become a musician, parental pressure led him to choose math. Considered one of the pioneers of modern topology, he made major contributions to set theory and functional analysis. He died of suicide, along with his wife and sister-in-law, instead of moving to a Nazi camp.
Kazimierz Kuratowski was a Polish mathematician who was one of the leading representatives of the Warsaw School of Mathematics. He studied engineering and obtained his Ph.D. in 1921. He went on to pursue a successful academic career as a professor of mathematics at Lwów Polytechnic in Lwów. He helped establish the State Mathematical Institute after World War II.
Antoni Zygmund was a Polish mathematician who specialized in the area of mathematical analysis. He is regarded as one of the greatest analysts of the 20th century. He was a co-founder of the Chicago school of mathematical analysis. He was a member of several scientific societies and the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science in 1986.
German mathematician Martin Kutta was known for his association with reputed institutes such as the University of Stuttgart and RWTH Aachen as a professor. He is perhaps best known for co-developing the Runge–Kutta method, which paved the way for solution of differential equations numerically.
Stanisław Leśniewski was a Polish mathematician, philosopher, and logician, who belonged to the first generation of the Lwów–Warsaw School of logic. His major contribution to mathematics was the construction of three nested formal systems: protothetic, ontology, and mereology. He was also a radical nominalist. He died shortly before the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
Włodzimierz Kuperberg is a mathematician and topologist. Born in Poland, he moved abroad due to the anti-semitic atmosphere in his native land. He built a successful academic career, eventually becoming a professor of mathematics at Auburn University. He is married to fellow mathematician Krystyna Kuperberg. The couple’s son, Greg Kuperberg, is also a professional mathematician.