Andrey Kolmogorov Biography

(Russian Mathematician Who Contributed to ‘Probability Theory’, ‘Probability Space’, ‘Topology’, ‘Intuitionistic Logic’ and ‘Turbulence Studies’)

Birthday: April 25, 1903 (Taurus)

Born In: Tambov, Russia

Andrey Kolmogorov was a Russian mathematician who is known for his path breaking contributions to numerous branches of mathematics and other fields of sciences including, probability, harmonic analysis, information theory, set theory, and number theory. There is no doubt that he is one of the most prominent mathematicians of the twentieth century. In fact, his contributions to probability theory are often compared to Euclid’s contributions to geometry. The greatness of Kolmogorov can also be gauged by the fact that he made significant contributions to not only mathematics but also physics, history, linguistics, and even poetry. From 1923 to 1977 he wrote more than 500 articles and books. He studied every branch of mathematics with the exception of number theory. His studies provided deep insights into mathematics and started new investigative fields in mathematics. He also played a key role in the education reforms in Russia. He was awarded numerous awards and honors, including Stalin Prize (1941), Balzan International Prize (1962), Lenin Prize (1965), Wolf Prize (1980), and Lobachevsky Prize (1986). He was also elected to many academies and societies including, Royal Society of London, Indian Statistical Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the French Academy of Sciences.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogor

Died At Age: 84


Spouse/Ex-: Anna Dmitrievna Egorova (m. 1942)

father: Nikolay Katayev

mother: Maria Y. Kolmogorova

Born Country: Russia

Mathematicians Russian Men

Died on: October 20, 1987

place of death: Moscow, Russia

More Facts

education: Moscow State University

awards: Wolf Prize in Mathematics
Lenin Prize in Science
Balzan Prize for Mathematical and physical sciences

Childhood & Early Life

Andrey Kolmogorov was born on April 25, 1903 in Tambov, a small town in Central Russia. His mother, Mariya Yakovlevna Kolmogorov, was staying at her father’s house in Tambov at that time. The plan was to go to Crimea but for some reason her stay in Tambov was extended and Andrey was born.

His mother died during childbirth. It is said that his mother was not married, so his father, Nikolai Kataev, had no part in his upbringing. It was his mother’s sister, Vera Yakovlevna Kolmogorov, who raised him as her own son. It is said that his mother belonged to a royal family, which was problematic during that time.

He moved to Moscow with his aunt in 1910. Early on in life he was keen to study history and biology.

In 1920, he started studying mathematics and history at the Moscow State University. Since he was not really sure about which career to follow, he also enrolled at the Mendeleev Chemical Engineering Institute with metallurgy as the main subject. It was during this time he and his teachers realized that he had a unique talent to solve complex mathematical problems.

He graduated in 1925 and continued to study at the university as a research student.

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His career started while he was studying at the Moscow State University. Andrey Kolmogorov began teaching physics and mathematics at the Potylikhin Experimental School. He was only 19 years old at that time.

Between 1920 and 1925, the year when he graduated, he published 10 papers, which is not an easy feat to accomplish.

One of these papers made a scientific analysis of the agrarian relations in Novgorod during the 15th and 16th centuries. His research was based on the ancient manuscripts of those periods and he came up with a hypothesis on how the upper Pinega region was settled. An expedition of this area later on proved his hypothesis right.

It was in 1924 that he first began to work on probability theory. He initially collaborated with A.Y. Khinchin on probability theory. In 1925, Kolmogorov along with Khinchin published their first paper on probability theory. In 1929, he came up with the first draft that looked at probability theory from the axiom system angle.

Andrey Kolmogorov completed his PhD in 1929 and by this time he had published 18 papers. It was in 1929 that he met Alexandrov on a sailing trip. Their friendship lasted more than fifty years and together they helped each other in their intellectual endeavors.

His pioneering work, On the Analytical Methods in Probability Theory, which is the foundation of the modern theory of Markov Processes, was published in 1931. The same year, he became a professor at the Moscow University.

The time period between 1930 and 1940 was very productive, as he published more than 60 papers on wide variety of topics including probability theory, philosophy, mathematical logic, history of mathematics, and mathematical statistics.

From 1933 to 1939, he held the position of the Director of the Scientific Research Institute of Mathematics. In 1937, he was made chair of the Department of the Theory of Probability at the Moscow University.

In the 1940s, Andrey Kolmogorov began to analyze the motion of planets and turbulent air flow from jet engine using the probability theory. He published his findings on turbulent air flow in 1941 and in 1954 he published his findings on planetary motions. Both his works showed how helpful probability theory can be in physics.

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In the 1950s, he started working on information theory after getting inspired by the work of Claude Shannon, an American engineer. He collaborated with Akiva Yaglom and Israil Gelfand on information theory and came up with a mathematical definition on the quantity of information.

In 1953 and 1954, he presented two papers on the theory of dynamical systems in relation to Hamiltonian dynamics. With these papers, he began to formulate the KAM-theory, which he developed in collaboration with Arnold and Moser.

He again proved his brilliance in the 1960s when he began working on the theory of pedagogy. His membership at the U.S.S.R Academy of Pedagogical Sciences greatly helped him in this endeavor.

In 1965, he developed the algorithmic theory of randomness, which came to be known as Kolmogorov Complexity.

Andrey Kolmogorov also played a major role in educational reforms in the Soviet Union. He even wrote textbooks on algebra, geometry, and analysis from sixth to tenth grade students.

He also established his own school, in which gifted students were taught. He spent a lot of time in teaching, developing a syllabus, and writing textbooks for this school

Major Works

His contribution to Probability Theory is one of his major works. His paper, On the Analytical Methods in Probability Theory laid the foundation to the new beginning of the probability theory. His probability theory has been applied to mathematical genetics, physics, and even demography.

His KAM (Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser) theory is credited for solving the problem of solar systems’ stability. A problem that was first presented by Henri Poincare.

Family & Personal Life

He married Anna Dmitrievna Egorova in 1942. They had no children.

He died in 1987 after battling illness for a long time. He was 84 years old at the time.


He was an outdoor mathematician. All the major theories that he developed were initiated while he was trekking, swimming, or sailing.

See the events in life of Andrey Kolmogorov in Chronological Order

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