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.

#1

David Hilbert

1862 - 1943 (81 years)

#33 person's overall influence

David Hilbert was a German mathematician and one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many areas, including invariant theory, the calculus of variations, commutative algebra, algebraic number theory, the foundations of geometry, spectral theory of operators and its application to integral equations, mathematical physics, and the foundations of mathematics .

#2

Albert Einstein

1879 - 1955 (76 years)

#7 person's overall influence

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity, but he also made important contributions to the development of the theory of quantum mechanics. Relativity and quantum mechanics are together the two pillars of modern physics. His mass–energy equivalence formula , which arises from relativity theory, has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Ph

#3

Euclid

323 BC - 285 BC (38 years)

#29 person's overall influence

Euclid , sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria to distinguish him from Euclid of Megara, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "founder of geometry" or the "father of geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I . His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the theorems of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Euclid also wrote work...

#4

Aristotle

384 BC - 322 BC (62 years)

#1 person's overall influence

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition. His writings cover many subjects including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics, meteorology, geology and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him. It was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its int

#5

Leonhard Euler

1707 - 1783 (76 years)

#49 person's overall influence

Leonhard Euler was a Swiss mathematician, physicist, astronomer, geographer, logician and engineer who made important and influential discoveries in many branches of mathematics, such as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory, while also making pioneering contributions to several branches such as topology and analytic number theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion of a mathematical function. He is also known for his work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, astronomy and music theory.

#6

Isaac Newton

1642 - 1727 (85 years)

#11 person's overall influence

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the greatest mathematicians and most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica , first published in 1687, established classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.

#7

Carl Friedrich Gauss

1777 - 1855 (78 years)

#65 person's overall influence

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician and physicist who made significant contributions to many fields in mathematics and science. Sometimes referred to as the Princeps mathematicorum and "the greatest mathematician since antiquity", Gauss had an exceptional influence in many fields of mathematics and science, and is ranked among history's most influential mathematicians.

#8

Bernhard Riemann

1826 - 1866 (40 years)

#109 person's overall influence

Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann was a German mathematician who made contributions to analysis, number theory, and differential geometry. In the field of real analysis, he is mostly known for the first rigorous formulation of the integral, the Riemann integral, and his work on Fourier series. His contributions to complex analysis include most notably the introduction of Riemann surfaces, breaking new ground in a natural, geometric treatment of complex analysis. His famous 1859 paper on the prime-counting function, containing the original statement of the Riemann hypothesis, is regarded as one

#9

Sophus Lie

1842 - 1899 (57 years)

#141 person's overall influence

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

#10

Henri Poincaré

1854 - 1912 (58 years)

#91 person's overall influence

Jules Henri Poincaré was a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science. He is often described as a polymath, and in mathematics as "The Last Universalist", since he excelled in all fields of the discipline as it existed during his lifetime.

#11

John von Neumann

1903 - 1957 (54 years)

#36 person's overall influence

John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally regarded as the foremost mathematician of his time and said to be "the last representative of the great mathematicians". He integrated pure and applied sciences.

#12

Alexander Grothendieck

1928 - 2014 (86 years)

#191 person's overall influence

Alexander Grothendieck was a mathematician who became the leading figure in the creation of modern algebraic geometry. His research extended the scope of the field and added elements of commutative algebra, homological algebra, sheaf theory and category theory to its foundations, while his so-called "relative" perspective led to revolutionary advances in many areas of pure mathematics. He is considered by many to be the greatest mathematician of the 20th century.

#13

Archimedes

287 BC - 212 BC (75 years)

#61 person's overall influence

Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history, and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying the concept of the infinitely small and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including: the area of a circle; the surface area and volume of a sphere; area of an ellipse...

#14

Évariste Galois

1811 - 1832 (21 years)

#177 person's overall influence

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.

#15

Felix Klein

1849 - 1925 (76 years)

#176 person's overall influence

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.

#16

Georg Cantor

1845 - 1918 (73 years)

#137 person's overall influence

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...

#17

Bertrand Russell

1872 - 1970 (98 years)

#18 person's overall influence

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell was a British polymath. As an academic, he worked in philosophy, mathematics, and logic. His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science and various areas of analytic philosophy, especially logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics. Russell was also a public intellectual, historian, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate.

#18

Hermann Weyl

1885 - 1955 (70 years)

#197 person's overall influence

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.

#19

René Descartes

1596 - 1650 (54 years)

#17 person's overall influence

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist who invented analytical geometry, linking the previously separate fields of geometry and algebra. He spent a large portion of his working life in the Dutch Republic, initially serving the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy.

#20

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

1646 - 1716 (70 years)

#32 person's overall influence

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher, mathematician, scientist, diplomat and polymath. He is a prominent figure in both the history of philosophy and the history of mathematics. As a philosopher, he was one of the greatest representatives of 17th century rationalism. As a mathematician, his greatest achievement was the development of the main ideas of differential and integral calculus, independently of Isaac Newton's contemporaneous developments. Mathematical works have consistently favored Leibniz's notation as the conventional expression of calculus. However, it was only in

#21

Kurt Gödel

1906 - 1978 (72 years)

#92 person's overall influence

Kurt Friedrich Gödel was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Gödel had an immense effect upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when others such as Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, and David Hilbert were using logic and set theory to investigate the foundations of mathematics, building on earlier work by the likes of Richard Dedekind, Georg Cantor and Gottlob Frege.

#22

Paul Erdős

1913 - 1996 (83 years)

#284 person's overall influence

Paul Erdős was a renowned Hungarian mathematician. He was one of the most prolific mathematicians and producers of mathematical conjectures of the 20th century. He was known both for his social practice of mathematics and for his eccentric lifestyle . He devoted his waking hours to mathematics, even into his later years—indeed, his death came only hours after he solved a geometry problem at a conference in Warsaw.

#23

André Weil

1906 - 1998 (92 years)

#404 person's overall influence

André Weil was a French mathematician, known for his foundational work in number theory and algebraic geometry. He was a founding member and the de facto early leader of the mathematical Bourbaki group. The philosopher Simone Weil was his sister. The writer Sylvie Weil is his daughter.

#24

Paul Dirac

1902 - 1984 (82 years)

#131 person's overall influence

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...

#25

Richard Dedekind

1831 - 1916 (85 years)

#304 person's overall influence

Julius Wilhelm Richard Dedekind was a German mathematician who made important contributions to number theory, abstract algebra , and the axiomatic foundations of arithmetic. His best known contribution is the definition of real numbers through the notion of Dedekind cut. He is also considered a pioneer in the development of modern set theory and of the philosophy of mathematics known as Logicism.

#26

Arthur Cayley

1821 - 1895 (74 years)

#371 person's overall influence

Arthur Cayley was a prolific British mathematician who worked mostly on algebra. He helped found the modern British school of pure mathematics.As a child, Cayley enjoyed solving complex maths problems for amusement. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he excelled in Greek, French, German, and Italian, as well as mathematics. He worked as a lawyer for 14 years.

#27

Karl Weierstrass

1815 - 1897 (82 years)

#334 person's overall influence

Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass was a German mathematician often cited as the "father of modern analysis". Despite leaving university without a degree, he studied mathematics and trained as a school teacher, eventually teaching mathematics, physics, botany and gymnastics. He later received an honorary doctorate and became professor of mathematics in Berlin.

#28

Oscar Zariski

1899 - 1986 (87 years)

#522 person's overall influence

Oscar Zariski was a Russian-born American mathematician and one of the most influential algebraic geometers of the 20th century.Education Zariski was born Oscher Zaritsky to a Jewish family and in 1918 studied at the University of Kyiv. He left Kyiv in 1920 to study at the University of Rome where he became a disciple of the Italian school of algebraic geometry, studying with Guido Castelnuovo, Federigo Enriques and Francesco Severi.

#29

Jean-Pierre Serre

1926 - Present (95 years)

#500 person's overall influence

Jean-Pierre Serre is a French mathematician who has made contributions to algebraic topology, algebraic geometry, and algebraic number theory. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1954, the Wolf Prize in 2000 and the inaugural Abel Prize in 2003.

#30

Andrey Kolmogorov

1903 - 1987 (84 years)

#254 person's overall influence

Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov was a Soviet mathematician who contributed to the mathematics of probability theory, topology, intuitionistic logic, turbulence, classical mechanics, algorithmic information theory and computational complexity.

#31

Gottlob Frege

1848 - 1925 (77 years)

#67 person's overall influence

Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German philosopher, logician, and mathematician. He worked as a mathematics professor at the University of Jena, and is understood by many to be the father of analytic philosophy, concentrating on the philosophy of language, logic, and mathematics. Though he was largely ignored during his lifetime, Giuseppe Peano , Bertrand Russell , and, to some extent, Ludwig Wittgenstein introduced his work to later generations of philosophers. In the early 21st century, Frege was widely considered to be the greatest logician since Aristotle, and one of the most profo...

#32

James Clerk Maxwell

1831 - 1879 (48 years)

#79 person's overall influence

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics. His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics" where the first one had been realised by Isaac Newton.

#33

Pierre de Fermat

1601 - 1665 (64 years)

#330 person's overall influence

Pierre de Fermat was a French mathematician who is given credit for early developments that led to infinitesimal calculus, including his technique of adequality. In particular, he is recognized for his discovery of an original method of finding the greatest and the smallest ordinates of curved lines, which is analogous to that of differential calculus, then unknown, and his research into number theory. He made notable contributions to analytic geometry, probability, and optics. He is best known for his Fermat's principle for light propagation and his Fermat's Last Theorem in number theory, wh

#34

Edward Witten

1951 - Present (70 years)

#340 person's overall influence

Witten is Professor of Mathematical Physics at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). He is known world-wide for his many important contributions to the mathematics of string theory and treatments of theoretical physics. Interestingly, Witten received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History, with a minor in Linguistics at Brandeis University in 1971. After graduation, Witten wrote for The New Republic and The Nation, and even worked on George McGovern’s presidential campaign! He returned to college and studied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before dropping out, retur

#35

Élie Cartan

1869 - 1951 (82 years)

#592 person's overall influence

Élie Joseph Cartan, ForMemRS was an influential French mathematician who did fundamental work in the theory of Lie groups, differential systems , and differential geometry. He also made significant contributions to general relativity and indirectly to quantum mechanics. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century.

#36

Immanuel Kant

1724 - 1804 (80 years)

#3 person's overall influence

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics have made him one of the most influential figures in modern Western philosophy.

#37

Norbert Wiener

1894 - 1964 (70 years)

#86 person's overall influence

Norbert Wiener was an American mathematician and philosopher. He was a professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . A child prodigy, Wiener later became an early researcher in stochastic and mathematical noise processes, contributing work relevant to electronic engineering, electronic communication, and control systems.

#38

William Rowan Hamilton

1805 - 1865 (60 years)

#399 person's overall influence

Sir William Rowan Hamilton MRIA was an Irish mathematician, Andrews Professor of Astronomy at Trinity College Dublin, and Royal Astronomer of Ireland. He worked in both pure mathematics and mathematics for physics. He made important contributions to optics, classical mechanics and algebra. Although Hamilton was not a physicist–he regarded himself as a pure mathematician–his work was of major importance to physics, particularly his reformulation of Newtonian mechanics, now called Hamiltonian mechanics. This work has proven central to the modern study of classical field theories such as electr

#39

Henri Lebesgue

1875 - 1941 (66 years)

#503 person's overall influence

Henri Léon Lebesgue was a French mathematician known for his theory of integration, which was a generalization of the 17th-century concept of integration—summing the area between an axis and the curve of a function defined for that axis. His theory was published originally in his dissertation Intégrale, longueur, aire at the University of Nancy during 1902.

#40

Diophantus

#498 person's overall influence

Diophantus of Alexandria was an Alexandrian mathematician, who was the author of a series of books called Arithmetica, many of which are now lost. His texts deal with solving algebraic equations. Diophantine equations and of Diophantine approximations are important areas of mathematical research. Diophantus coined the term παρισότης to refer to an approximate equality. This term was rendered as adaequalitas in Latin, and became the technique of adequality developed by Pierre de Fermat to find maxima for functions and tangent lines to curves. Diophantus was the first Greek mathematician who

#41

Ptolemy

100 - 170 (70 years)

#27 person's overall influence

Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, geographer and astrologer who wrote several scientific treatises, three of which were of importance to later Byzantine, Islamic and Western European science. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, although it was originally entitled the Mathematical Treatise and then known as The Great Treatise . The second is the Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrolo

#42

Ernst Zermelo

1871 - 1953 (82 years)

#389 person's overall influence

Ernst Friedrich Ferdinand Zermelo was a German logician and mathematician, whose work has major implications for the foundations of mathematics. He is known for his role in developing Zermelo–Fraenkel axiomatic set theory and his proof of the well-ordering theorem.

#43

Giuseppe Peano

1858 - 1932 (74 years)

#289 person's overall influence

Giuseppe Peano was an Italian mathematician and glottologist. The author of over 200 books and papers, he was a founder of mathematical logic and set theory, to which he contributed much notation. The standard axiomatization of the natural numbers is named the Peano axioms in his honor. As part of this effort, he made key contributions to the modern rigorous and systematic treatment of the method of mathematical induction. He spent most of his career teaching mathematics at the University of Turin. He also wrote an international auxiliary language, Latino sine flexione , which is a simplified

#44

Emil Artin

1898 - 1962 (64 years)

#655 person's overall influence

Emil Artin was an Austrian mathematician of Armenian descent.Artin was one of the leading mathematicians of the twentieth century. He is best known for his work on algebraic number theory, contributing largely to class field theory and a new construction of L-functions. He also contributed to the pure theories of rings, groups and fields.

#45

Joseph Fourier

1768 - 1830 (62 years)

#361 person's overall influence

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier was a French mathematician and physicist born in Auxerre and best known for initiating the investigation of Fourier series, which eventually developed into Fourier analysis and harmonic analysis, and their applications to problems of heat transfer and vibrations. The Fourier transform and Fourier's law of conduction are also named in his honour. Fourier is also generally credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect.

#46

Pierre-Simon Laplace

1749 - 1827 (78 years)

#232 person's overall influence

Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace was a French scholar and polymath whose work was important to the development of engineering, mathematics, statistics, physics, astronomy, and philosophy. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five-volume Mécanique Céleste . This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the Bayesian interpretation of probability was developed mainly by Laplace.

#47

Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet

1805 - 1859 (54 years)

#489 person's overall influence

Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet was a German mathematician who made deep contributions to number theory , and to the theory of Fourier series and other topics in mathematical analysis; he is credited with being one of the first mathematicians to give the modern formal definition of a function.

#48

Emmy Noether

1882 - 1935 (53 years)

#612 person's overall influence

Amalie Emmy Noether was a German mathematician who made many important contributions to abstract algebra. She discovered Noether's theorem, which is fundamental in mathematical physics. She invariably used the name "Emmy Noether" in her life and publications. She was described by Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Jean Dieudonné, Hermann Weyl and Norbert Wiener as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. As one of the leading mathematicians of her time, she developed some theories of rings, fields, and algebras. In physics, Noether's theorem explains the connection between symm...

#49

William Kingdon Clifford

1845 - 1879 (34 years)

#526 person's overall influence

William Kingdon Clifford was an English mathematician and philosopher. Building on the work of Hermann Grassmann, he introduced what is now termed geometric algebra, a special case of the Clifford algebra named in his honour. The operations of geometric algebra have the effect of mirroring, rotating, translating, and mapping the geometric objects that are being modelled to new positions. Clifford algebras in general and geometric algebra in particular have been of ever increasing importance to mathematical physics, geometry, and computing. Clifford was the first to suggest that gravitation m

#50

Alfred Tarski

1901 - 1983 (82 years)

#201 person's overall influence

Alfred Tarski , born Alfred Teitelbaum, was a Polish-American logician and mathematician. A prolific author best known for his work on model theory, metamathematics, and algebraic logic, he also contributed to abstract algebra, topology, geometry, measure theory, mathematical logic, set theory, and analytic philosophy.

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