Hundred Greatest Mathematicians of the Past

Isaac Newton


Carl Gauss

Leonhard Euler

Bernhard Riemann

Henri Poincaré

J.-L. Lagrange


David Hilbert

G.W. Leibniz

Alex. Grothendieck

Pierre de Fermat


The Greatest Mathematicians of the Past
ranked in approximate order of "greatness."
To qualify, the mathematician must be born before 1930 and his work must have
breadth, depth, and historical importance.

  1. Isaac Newton
  2. Archimedes
  3. Carl F. Gauss
  4. Leonhard Euler
  5. Bernhard Riemann
  1. Henri Poincaré
  2. Joseph-Louis Lagrange
  3. Euclid of Alexandria
  4. David Hilbert
  5. Gottfried W. Leibniz
  1. Alexandre Grothendieck
  2. Pierre de Fermat
  3. Évariste Galois
  4. John von Neumann
  5. René Descartes

  1. Karl W. T. Weierstrass
  2. Srinivasa Ramanujan
  3. Hermann K. H. Weyl
  4. Peter G. L. Dirichlet
  5. Niels Abel
  1. Georg Cantor
  2. Carl G. J. Jacobi
  3. Brahmagupta
  4. Augustin Cauchy
  5. Arthur Cayley
  1. Emmy Noether
  2. Pythagoras of Samos
  3. Aryabhata
  4. Leonardo `Fibonacci'
  5. William R. Hamilton

At some point a longer list will become a List of Great Mathematicians rather than a List of Greatest Mathematicians. I've expanded my original List of Thirty to an even Hundred, but you may prefer to reduce it to a Top Seventy, Top Sixty, Top Fifty, Top Forty or Top Thirty list, or even Top Twenty, Top Fifteen or Top Ten List.

Newton contributed little to number theory, and satisfies the "great breadth" requirement due to his huge contributions to physics. As my knowledge of the history of mathematics grows I often revise the rankings in this list, but by this time I'm reluctant to make major changes at the very top. Without this reluctance I might demote Newton, though he'd still be in the Top Five.

  1. Apollonius of Perga
  2. Charles Hermite
  3. Pierre-Simon Laplace
  4. Carl Ludwig Siegel
  5. Diophantus of Alexandria
  1. Muhammed al-Khowârizmi
  2. Richard Dedekind
  3. Kurt Gödel
  4. Bháscara (II) Áchárya
  5. Felix Christian Klein
  1. Blaise Pascal
  2. Élie Cartan
  3. Archytas of Tarentum
  4. Godfrey H. Hardy
  5. Alhazen ibn al-Haytham

  1. Jean le Rond d'Alembert
  2. F.E.J. Émile Borel
  3. Julius Plücker
  4. Hipparchus of Nicaea
  5. Andrey N. Kolmogorov
  1. Joseph Liouville
  2. Eudoxus of Cnidus
  3. F. Gotthold Eisenstein
  4. Jacob Bernoulli
  5. Johannes Kepler
  1. Stefan Banach
  2. Jacques Hadamard
  3. Giuseppe Peano
  4. Panini of Shalatula
  5. André Weil

  1. Jakob Steiner
  2. Joseph Fourier
  3. Liu Hui
  4. Bonaventura Cavalieri
  5. Jean-Pierre Serre
  1. Marius Sophus Lie
  2. Hermann G. Grassmann
  3. M. E. Camille Jordan
  4. François Viète
  5. Gaspard Monge
  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Galileo Galilei
  3. James C. Maxwell
  4. Aristotle
  5. Girolamo Cardano

Einstein, Galileo, Maxwell, Aristotle and Cardano are among the greatest applied mathematicians in history, but lack the importance as pure mathematicians to qualify for The Top 70. Nevertheless I'd want to include them in any longer list, so I've tucked these ambiguous cases into the #71-#75 slots.

  1. Michael F. Atiyah
  2. Atle Selberg
  3. L.E.J. Brouwer
  4. Christiaan Huygens
  5. Alan M. Turing
  1. Jean-Victor Poncelet
  2. Pafnuti Chebyshev
  3. Henri Léon Lebesgue
  4. John E. Littlewood
  5. F. L. Gottlob Frege
  1. Alfred Tarski
  2. Shiing-Shen Chern
  3. James J. Sylvester
  4. Johann Bernoulli
  5. Ernst E. Kummer

  1. Johann H. Lambert
  2. George Pólya
  3. Felix Hausdorff
  4. George D. Birkhoff
  5. Siméon-Denis Poisson
  1. John Wallis
  2. Omar al-Khayyám
  3. Adrien M. Legendre
  4. Pappus of Alexandria
  5. Thales of Miletus

This is primarily a list of Greatest Mathematicians of the Past, but I use 1930 birth as an arbitrary cutoff, and one of the "Top 100" (Jean-Pierre Serre) is still alive as of 2019. Click here for a longer List of 200 including many more 20th-century mathematicians.)

Click for a discussion of certain omissions. Please send me e-mail if you believe there's a major flaw in my rankings (or an error in any of the biographies). Obviously the relative ranks of, say Fibonacci and Ramanujan, will never satisfy everyone since the reasons for their "greatness" are different. I'm sure I've overlooked great mathematicians who obviously belong on this list. Please e-mail and tell me!

Biographies of the greatest mathematicians are in separate files by birth year:

(Or you can View the List and Bios as a single page.)

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This page is copyrighted (©) by James Dow Allen, 1998-2019.