10. Pythagoras of Samos
Greek Mathematician Pythagoras is considered by some to be one of the first great mathematicians. Living around 570 to 495 BC, in modern day Greece, he is known to have founded the Pythagorean cult, who were noted by Aristotle to be one of the first groups to actively study and advance mathematics. He is also commonly credited with the Pythagorean Theorem within trigonometry. However, some sources doubt that is was him who constructed the proof (Some attribute it to his students, or Baudhayana, who lived some 300 years earlier in India). Nonetheless, the effect of such, as with large portions of fundamental mathematics, is commonly felt today, with the theorem playing a large part in modern measurements and technological equipment, as well as being the base of a large portion of other areas and theorems in mathematics. But, unlike most ancient theories, it played a bearing on the development of geometry, as well as opening the door to the study of mathematics as a worthwhile endeavor. Thus, he could be called the founding father of modern mathematics.
9. Andrew Wiles
The only currently living mathematician on this list, Andrew Wiles is most well known for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem: That no positive integers, a, b and c can satisfy the equation a^n+b^n=c^n For n greater then 2. (If n=2 it is the Pythagoras Formula). Although the contributions to math are not, perhaps, as grand as other on this list, he did ‘invent’ large portions of new mathematics for his proof of the theorem. Besides, his dedication is often admired by most, as he quite literally shut himself away for 7 years to formulate a solution. When it was found that the solution contained an error, he returned to solitude for a further year before the solution was accepted. To put in perspective how ground breaking and new the math was, it had been said that you could count the number of mathematicians in the world on one hand who, at the time, could understand and validate his proof. Nonetheless, the effects of such are likely to only increase as time passes (and more and more people can understand it).
8. Isaac Newton and Wilhelm Leibniz
I have placed these two together as they are both often given the honor of being the ‘inventor’ of modern infinitesimal calculus, and as such have both made monolithic contributions to the field. To start, Leibniz is often given the credit for introducing modern standard notation, notably the integral sign. He made large contributions to the field of Topology. Whereas all round genius Isaac Newton has, because of the grand scientific epic Principia, generally become the primary man hailed by most to be the actual inventor of calculus. Nonetheless, what can be said is that both men made considerable vast contributions in their own manner.
7. Leonardo Pisano Blgollo
Blgollo, also known as Leonardo Fibonacci, is perhaps one of the middle ages greatest mathematicians. Living from 1170 to 1250, he is best known for introducing the infamous Fibonacci Series to the western world. Although known to Indian mathematicians since approximately 200 BC, it was, nonetheless, a truly insightful sequence, appearing in biological systems frequently. In addition, from this Fibonacci also contributed greatly to the introduction of the Arabic numbering system. Something he is often forgotten for.
Haven spent a large portion of his childhood within North Africa he learned the Arabic numbering system, and upon realizing it was far simpler and more efficient then the bulky Roman numerals, decided to travel the Arab world learning from the leading mathematicians of the day. Upon returning to Italy in 1202, he published his Liber Abaci, whereupon the Arabic numbers were introduced and applied to many world situations to further advocate their use. As a result of his work the system was gradually adopted and today he is considered a major player in the development of modern mathematics.
6. Alan Turing
Computer Scientist and Cryptanalyst Alan Turing is regarded my many, if not most, to be one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. Having worked in the Government Code and Cypher School in Britain during the second world war, he made significant discoveries and created ground breaking methods of code breaking that would eventually aid in cracking the German Enigma Encryptions. Undoubtedly affecting the outcome of the war, or at least the time-scale.
After the end of the war he invested his time in computing. Having come up with idea of a computing style machine before the war, he is considered one of the first true computer scientists. Furthermore, he wrote a range of brilliant papers on the subject of computing that are still relevant today, notably on Artificial Intelligence, on which he developed the Turing test which is still used to evaluate a computers ‘intelligence’. Remarkably, he began in 1948 working with D. G. Champernowne, an undergraduate acquaintance on a computer chess program for a machine not yet in existence. He would play the ‘part’ of the machine in testing such programs.