Who are the most influential thinkers in world?
Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!
Note: These rankings change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …
1898 - 1963 (65 years)
Clive Staples Lewis was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University and Cambridge University . He is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
1817 - 1862 (45 years)
Henry David Thoreau was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay "Civil Disobedience" , an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.
1899 - 1992 (93 years)
Friedrich August von Hayek , often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Gunnar Myrdal for his work on economics. His account of how changing prices communicate information that helps individuals coordinate their plans is widely regarded as an important achievement in economics, leading to his prize.
1845 - 1918 (73 years)
Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor was a German mathematician. He created set theory, which has become a fundamental theory in mathematics. Cantor established the importance of one-to-one correspondence between the members of two sets, defined infinite and well-ordered sets, and proved that the real numbers are more numerous than the natural numbers. In fact, Cantor's method of proof of this theorem implies the existence of an infinity of infinities. He defined the cardinal and ordinal numbers and their arithmetic. Cantor's work is of great philosophical interest, a fact he was well aware...
1899 - 1961 (62 years)
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three nonfict
1902 - 1984 (82 years)
Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was an English theoretical physicist who is regarded as one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century.Dirac made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. Among other discoveries, he formulated the Dirac equation which describes the behaviour of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter. Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrödinger "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory". He also made significant contributions to the reconciliation of gen...
1890 - 1937 (47 years)
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction. Lovecraft is best known for his creation of a body of work that became known as the Cthulhu Mythos.Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft spent most of his life in New England. After his father was institutionalized for general paresis in 1893, he lived affluently, but his family's wealth dissipated soon after the death of his grandfather. After this point, he was living with his mother in reduced financial conditions, until she was institutionalized in 1919. He became involved in the United
1926 - 1984 (58 years)
Paul-Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic.Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. Though often cited as a structuralist and postmodernist, Foucault rejected these labels. His thought has influenced academics, especially those working in communication studies, anthropology, psychology, sociology, criminology, cultural studies, literary theory, feminism, Marxism and critical theory.
1896 - 1980 (84 years)
Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development. Piaget's theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology".Piaget placed great importance on the education of children. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that "only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual." His theory of child development is studied in pre-service education programs. Educators continue to incorporate constructivist-based strategies.
1842 - 1899 (57 years)
Marius Sophus Lie was a Norwegian mathematician. He largely created the theory of continuous symmetry and applied it to the study of geometry and differential equations.Biography His first mathematical work, Repräsentation der Imaginären der Plangeometrie, was published in 1869 by the Academy of Sciences in Christiania and also by Crelle's Journal. That same year he received a scholarship and traveled to Berlin, where he stayed from September to February 1870. There, he met Felix Klein and they became close friends. When he left Berlin, Lie traveled to Paris, where he was joined by Klein two
1791 - 1867 (76 years)
Michael Faraday was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.
1805 - 1844 (39 years)
Joseph Smith Jr. was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. When he was 24, Smith published the Book of Mormon. By the time of his death, 14 years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religion that continues to the present with millions of global adherents.
1861 - 1947 (86 years)
Alfred North Whitehead was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.
1881 - 1973 (92 years)
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon , and Guernica , a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War...
1811 - 1832 (21 years)
Évariste Galois was a French mathematician and political activist. While still in his teens, he was able to determine a necessary and sufficient condition for a polynomial to be solvable by radicals, thereby solving a problem standing for 350 years. His work laid the foundations for Galois theory and group theory, two major branches of abstract algebra, and the subfield of Galois connections. He died at age 20 from wounds suffered in a duel.
1849 - 1925 (76 years)
Christian Felix Klein was a German mathematician and mathematics educator, known for his work with group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the associations between geometry and group theory. His 1872 Erlangen program, classifying geometries by their basic symmetry groups, was an influential synthesis of much of the mathematics of the time.
1807 - 1870 (63 years)
Robert Edward Lee was an American Confederate general best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He led the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until its surrender in 1865 and earned a reputation as a skilled tactician.
1930 - Present (91 years)
Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is considered one of the most successful investors in the world and has a net worth of over $104.4 billion as of August 2021, making him the world's ninth-wealthiest person.
1832 - 1898 (66 years)
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children's fiction, notably Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He was noted for his facility with word play, logic, and fantasy. The poems "Jabberwocky" and The Hunting of the Snark are classified in the genre of literary nonsense. He was also a mathematician, photographer, inventor, and Anglican deacon.
1865 - 1936 (71 years)
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book , Kim , and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" . His poems include "Mandalay" , "Gunga Din" , "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" , "The White Man's Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands" , and "If—" . He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children's books are classics; one critic noted "a versatile and luminous narrative gift."
1915 - 2009 (94 years)
Paul Anthony Samuelson was an American economist. The first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, the Swedish Royal Academies stated, when awarding the prize in 1970, that he "has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory". Economic historian Randall E. Parker has called him the "Father of Modern Economics", and The New York Times considered him to be the "foremost academic economist of the 20th century".
1933 - Present (88 years)
Amartya Sen is the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Calcutta and a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D from Trinity College in Cambridge.
1931 - Present (90 years)
Keith Rupert Murdoch is an Australian-born American billionaire businessman, media tycoon, and investor. Through his company News Corp, he is the owner of hundreds of local, national, and international publishing outlets around the world, including in the UK , in Australia , in the US , book publisher HarperCollins, and the television broadcasting channels Sky News Australia and Fox News . He was also the owner of Sky , 21st Century Fox , and the now-defunct News of the World. With a net worth of $22.4 billion as of 28 July 2021, Murdoch is the 31st richest person in the United States and th...
1858 - 1942 (84 years)
Franz Uri Boas was a German-born American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology who has been called the "Father of American Anthropology". His work is associated with the movements known as Historical Particularism and Cultural Relativism.
1835 - 1919 (84 years)
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist. Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest Americans in history. He became a leading philanthropist in the United States and in the British Empire. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away ~$350 million to many charities, foundations, and universities – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming "The Gospel of Wealth" called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, expressed support for progressive taxation an...
1890 - 1962 (72 years)
Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher was a British polymath, mathematician, statistician, geneticist, and academic. For his work in statistics, he has been described as "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" and "the single most important figure in 20th century statistics". In genetics, his work used mathematics to combine Mendelian genetics and natural selection; this contributed to the revival of Darwinism in the early 20th-century revision of the theory of evolution known as the modern synthesis. For his contributions to biology, Fisher has been c...
1880 - 1964 (84 years)
Douglas MacArthur was an American military leader who served as General of the Army for the United States, as well as a Field Marshal to the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s, and he played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. Macarthur received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines campaign. This made him and his father Arthur MacArthur Jr. the first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the U.S. Army, and the only one conferred the r...
1795 - 1821 (26 years)
John Keats was an English poet prominent in the second generation of Romantic poets, with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, although his poems were in publication for only four years before he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. They were indifferently received by critics in his lifetime, but his fame grew rapidly after his death. By the end of the century he had been placed in the canon of English literature and become the inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with a strong influence on many writers; the Encyclopædia Britannica described one ode as "one of the final masterpie
1863 - 1902 (39 years)
Swami Vivekananda , born Narendranath Datta , was an Indian Hindu monk who became a leading yoga guru. He was a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. Influenced by Western esotericism, he was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world, and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was a major force in the contemporary Hindu reform movements in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India. Viv
1843 - 1916 (73 years)
Henry James was an American/British author. He is regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He was the son of Henry James Sr. and the brother of renowned philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
1941 - 2002 (61 years)
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In 1996, Gould was hired as the Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University, after which he divided his time teaching between there and Harvard.
1882 - 1941 (59 years)
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.Woolf was born into an affluent household in South Kensington, London, the seventh child in a blended family of eight which included the modernist painter Vanessa Bell. Her mother was Julia Prinsep Jackson and her father Leslie Stephen. While the boys in the family received college educations, the girls were home-schooled in English classics and Victorian literature. An important influence in Virginia Woolf'...
1932 - Present (89 years)
John Rogers Searle is an American philosopher. He was Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Language and Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley until 2019. Widely noted for his contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and social philosophy, he began teaching at UC Berkeley in 1959.
1887 - 1965 (78 years)
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret , known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now regarded as modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America.
1860 - 1904 (44 years)
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre. Chekhov practiced as a medical doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."
1926 - 1995 (69 years)
Murray Newton Rothbard was an American heterodox economist of the Austrian School, economic historian and political theorist. Rothbard was a founder and leading theoretician of anarcho-capitalism, a staunch advocate of historical revisionism and a central figure in the 20th-century American libertarian movement. He wrote over twenty books on political theory, revisionist history, economics, and other subjects.
1848 - 1923 (75 years)
Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was an Italian civil engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher. He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals' choices. He was also responsible for popularising the use of the term "elite" in social analysis.
1942 - Present (79 years)
Currently appointed as the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University (and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies) Daniel Dennett is a philosopher concerned with questions of the mind and cognitive science, and is colloquially known as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism.” As an undergraduate, Dennett studied at Wesleyan University and Harvard University before earning his PhD in philosophy at Oxford University in 1965.
1941 - Present (80 years)
Richard Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, but he is best known for his work in evolutionary biology. He studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, earning a bachelor’s degree, M.A., and Ph.D.
1887 - 1961 (74 years)
Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger , sometimes written as or , was a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian-Irish physicist who developed a number of fundamental results in quantum theory: the Schrödinger equation provides a way to calculate the wave function of a system and how it changes dynamically in time.
1946 - Present (75 years)
Peter Singer is a well-known Australian moral philosopher, Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, and Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He studied at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford.
1891 - 1970 (79 years)
Rudolf Carnap was a German-language philosopher who was active in Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. He was a major member of the Vienna Circle and an advocate of logical positivism. He is considered "one of the giants among twentieth-century philosophers."
1953 - Present (68 years)
Paul Krugman is one of the most highly respected and well-known economists in the world. He is a professor emeritus of the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University, a distinguished professor of the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D program and scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, both at City University of New York.
1883 - 1924 (41 years)
Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic. It typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers. It has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include "" , , and . The term Kafkaesque has entered English to describe situations like those found in his writing.
1832 - 1920 (88 years)
Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt was a German physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founders of modern psychology. Wundt, who distinguished psychology as a science from philosophy and biology, was the first person ever to call himself a psychologist. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology". In 1879, at University of Leipzig, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory for psychological research. This marked psychology as an independent field of study. By creating this laboratory he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other d
1885 - 1955 (70 years)
Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl, was a German mathematician, theoretical physicist and philosopher. Although much of his working life was spent in Zürich, Switzerland, and then Princeton, New Jersey, he is associated with the University of Göttingen tradition of mathematics, represented by David Hilbert and Hermann Minkowski.
1868 - 1963 (95 years)
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an American sociologist, socialist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a relatively tolerant and integrated community, and after completing graduate work at the University of Berlin and Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.
1822 - 1895 (73 years)
Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization. His research in chemistry led to remarkable breakthroughs in the understanding of the causes and preventions of diseases, which laid down the foundations of hygiene, public health and much of modern medicine. His works are credited to saving millions of lives through the developments of vaccines for rabies and anthrax. He is regarded as one of the founders of modern bacteriology and has been honoured as the "father of bacteriology" a...
1885 - 1972 (87 years)
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an expatriate American poet and critic, a major figure in the early modernist poetry movement, and a fascist collaborator in Italy during World War II. His works include Ripostes , Hugh Selwyn Mauberley , and his 800-page epic poem, The Cantos .
1881 - 1973 (92 years)
Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises was an Austrian School economist, historian, logician, and sociologist. Mises wrote and lectured extensively on the societal contributions of classical liberalism. He is best known for his work on praxeology, a study of human choice and action.
Want to be an Academic Influence Insider?