In this post, I am sharing the most interesting facts about mathematicians.
I believe that in order to be a good mathematician one should have extraordinary patience. Numbers can be complicated and calculations can be nerve-wracking. However, despite all that mental labor, mathematicians love their numbers and take inspiration by solving complicated problems.
We are building systems, conducting trade deals, and engineering technologies, using mathematics as a base. Thus, mathematicians are very important in our modern time, and they were important to our past.
- Thales of Miletus was one of the earliest known mathematicians.
He lived in Miletus, Greek Ionia between 624 B.C.E – 546 B.C.E. His notable contributions to mathematics were through geometry. Using geometry, Thales calculated the distance of ships from ashore and measured the heights of pyramids. His most notable work is known as Thales Theorem.
- Pythagoras is considered to be the first “true” mathematician.
Although there is no clear information about his personal life, he is considered to be the greatest contributor to the development of mathematics. Through teaching, he gained a loyal circle of students who are known as Pythagoreans. Like Thales, Pythagoras also came up with the theorem. The Pythagorean theorem was not the only thing he contributed to mathematics. He and his students were also credited for the discovery of irrational numbers and the creation of musical scale.
- In ancient Egypt, mathematicians used numbers to survey the lands and to engineer the buildings.
The earliest mathematical records were discovered in Egypt. However, mathematicians in ancient Egypt usually wrote their numbers on stones, vases and temple walls. Therefore, most of their mathematical records did not survive to our days except the two: The Moscow Papyrus and The Ahmes (Rind) papyrus.
- Leonardo Pisano, or well-known as Fibonacci, came up with the sequence of numbers which became popular in modern mathematics.
If you are into mathematics, then you may have heard about Fibonacci Sequence. In the 19th century when a French mathematician, Edouard Lucas, started discovering a similar sequence in nature, the Fibonacci Sequence was coined and gained a great attention among mathematicians. Basically, the sequence goes as 0, 1,1,2,3,5,8,13, 21, 34, … The most interesting part is that the pattern is found in a variety of natural processes. For instance, in the reproduction of bees, spirals of sunflower, animal horns, etc…
Al Khwarizmi is regarded as the father of Algebra.
Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician who lived around 780 to 850 A.D. His works boosted the establishment of Hindu-Arabic numbers, 1,2,3, … in Algebra. Hindu-Arabic numbers replaced the Roman numerals, I, II, III, IV… since they were easier to use.
Some scientists recognize him as the father of computer science because he developed the concept of Algorithm, which in turn contributed to the development of computers. The word Algorithm is derived from the Latinized version of his name, Algoritmi
The facts about mathematicians: 6-10
Hypatia was one of the earliest known female mathematicians.
She was the daughter of Theon, who was a great scholar of Alexandria, Egypt. Although her birth date is still under a debate, it was believed that she lived between 370 – 415 A.D. Although, Hypatia is mostly known for her contribution to mathematics, she was also an astronomer and a respected philosopher. She is known for editing the mathematical work, On the Conics of Apollonius. By editing, she made the concepts of the book easier to understand.
Ada Lovelace was the famous mathematician who considered as the first computer programmer.
The computer, Babbage’s Analytical Engine, was her concept in her writings, but it was never built. However, her vision and writings about computing were significant and earned her the title “the first computer programmer”. She died in 1852 at the age of 36 from uterine cancer.
Babylonian mathematicians were thought to be the first ones to invent multiplication table.
Interestingly, the multiplication table we use today takes its root from over 4000 years ago. Surviving clay tablets from that era back this claim. As Babylonian civilization grew larger, calculations needed to run an orderly system and practice fair trade transactions. So, they invented multiplication table and wrote it down to clay tablets to carry around with them whenever needed.
American mathematician, Kurt Godel, had a tragic ending.
We have added Kurt Godel to the list of facts about mathematicians because he had unusually tragic death.
When his wife became ill and hospitalized, he starved himself to death. Because, when he grew older, he became paranoid. He thought that people were trying to poison him, so he did not eat anything unless his wife tastes it first.
Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman declined to accept several prestigious awards for his accomplishment in mathematics.
In modern mathematics, Grigori Perelman is one of the greatest mathematicians. He proved his extraordinary knowledge by solving Poincare Conjecture. However, he refused to accept at least three prestigious awards and even turned down the 1 million dollar prize by questioning the fairness of the awards.
These were some of the interesting facts about mathematicians. I also posted 15 interesting facts about mathematics, you can read it here. If you like the list, please share it on social media.