VB Project: 20 Greatest Mathematicians

For my visual basic class we have to make a program about a certain area (math) and 20 great contributors to that field.
So I really don't know a whole lot about past Mathematicians, so I came here. :biggrin:
Here is who I have so far that I know for sure I want on the list. I need 20, and that's where you all come in. So in no particular order here they are (they are only numbered so you know how many I have so far):
1. Euclid
2. Newton
3. Gottfried Liebnitz
4. Rene Descartes
5. Carl Friedrich Gauss
6. George Boole
7. Leonhard Euler
8. Bernhard Riemann
9. Charles Babbage
And here are names that I think were important but I'm not really sure if they should be on the list:
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Joseph-Louis Lagrange
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
John von Newmann
So if you all could tell me what you think of who should be added/dropped. Thank you.
Pascal & Pythagoras?
Mandelbrot may be of interest as well. Ramanujan was a great contributor to number theory. Poincaré pretty much opened up the investigation of general topology and left marks on many other nontrivial areas of mathematics. Newton and Liebnitz together are redundant; I would drop Newton. Weierstrass and Cauchy were great contributors to the age of rigor. You might want to check out E.T. Bell's "Men of Mathematics", though it is a bit biased.
You say Weierstrass is more important than Newton? :eek:

10. Pascal
Where is Roger Penrose? our greatest living Mathematician
not sure if archimedes, lagrange or cauchy should be on the list?!

i would drop boole & babbage

well ok have it your way i guess i'd add
-- galois (created abstract method)
-- fourier (can't get a degree in science, engineering or math without learning what he did at some point)
-- hilbert (just one of the best there ever was, math's arnold schwartzenegger)
11. Pythagoras

Lol, I had to think to remember what he did. Woops!


Science Advisor
Some more names: Fermat, Ramanujan, Russell, Wiener, Abel.
"Descartes attacked Fermat's method of maxima, minima and tangents. Roberval and Étienne Pascal became involved in the argument and eventually so did Desargues who Descartes asked to act as a referee. Fermat proved correct and eventually Descartes admitted this writing:-
... seeing the last method that you use for finding tangents to curved lines, I can reply to it in no other way than to say that it is very good and that, if you had explained it in this manner at the outset, I would have not contradicted it at all. "
He owned Descartes. He's on the list.
12. Fermat
"Just to show maths isn't a sausage-fest."
Yea it is.
13. Archimedes
14. Ramanujan (I think I had heard a lot about him and had forgotten his name. Is this the guy that was totally isolated and basically redid people's work because he didn't know it existed? They say he could have done so much more.)
15. Cauchy
16. LaGrange
And no I'm not dropping Babbage. He made a computer 200 years before anyone else.
17. Pascal

Ok, just 3 more! Thank you all for your input.
I'd probably choose Sophie Germaine over Emmy Noether, but that's me.
Indeed, she's certainly worth a mention. She competed with the best of the time, but never got the public recognition she deserved. The fact she could even begin to compete was remarkable considering she had no formal education. By Noether's time, I guess attitudes to women in the sciences had relaxed somewhat, though it was still somewhat socially awkward.
18. Sophie Germaine

matt grime

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
erdos, j p serre, atiyah, dirac,

or you could do "groups" such as "hardy, littlewood, and ramanujan". or "auslander and reitun" (reitun is a woman if we want to keep track) who basically inveneted the language of modern mathematics.

lusztig, grothendieck, witten, cantor (mandelbrot shuold not be on the list), goedel, all possibles.

if you want a fun chapter then tarski had a colourful life to say the least.


Science Advisor
Homework Helper
to me, max noether is far more important than emmy noether (he was her father).
also oscar zariski is quite important. and hermann weyl, and andre weil. and of course archimedes.

and i also recommend dropping charles babbage and george boole. galois certainly belongs there more and perhaps fourier.

to speak of dropping newton seems eccentric. and of course david hilbert is far more deserving than emmy noether of sophie germaine or boole or babbage.
Mathwok: i also recommend dropping charles babbage and george boole. galois certainly belongs there more and perhaps fourier...to speak of dropping newton seems eccentric. and of course david hilbert is far more deserving than emmy noether of sophie germaine or boole or babbage.

I agree with much of the above. Newton could be dropped since he was not directly involved in math and did not publish anything, at least in the Calculus. Archimedes certainly belongs on any list. I don't have any idea of how to rank recent individuals like Von Neumann. Other people to consider is the home-educated genius, Norbert Wiener who graduated from Harvard at 18. Then there is Cohen who did important work in foundations complimenting Gödel.
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how can u forget albert einstein, leonardo davinc, aryabhata and Bhaskara II?

matt grime

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
because they arguably aren't mathematicians in the modern sense.
Whatever happenned with Riemann?

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