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 …
1862 - 1943 (81 years)
David Hilbert was a German mathematician and one of the most influential and universal 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 foundations of mathematics .
1642 - 1727 (85 years)
Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the 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, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.
1879 - 1955 (76 years)
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics . His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula , which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.
1906 - 1978 (72 years)
Kurt Friedrich Gödel was a logician, mathematician, and analytic 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 analyzing the use of logic and set theory to understand the foundations of mathematics pioneered by Georg Cantor.
1707 - 1783 (76 years)
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.
1777 - 1855 (78 years)
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.
1848 - 1925 (77 years)
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 and Bertrand Russell introduced his work to later generations of philosophers.
1854 - 1912 (58 years)
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.
1903 - 1957 (54 years)
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.
1596 - 1650 (54 years)
René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in 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.
1913 - 1996 (83 years)
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.
1646 - 1716 (70 years)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a prominent German polymath and one of the most important logicians, mathematicians and natural philosophers of the Enlightenment. As a representative of the seventeenth-century tradition of rationalism, Leibniz developed, as his most prominent accomplishment, the 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. It was only in the 20th century that Leibniz's law of continuity and transcendental law
1877 - 1947 (70 years)
Godfrey Harold Hardy was an English mathematician, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis. In biology, he is known for the Hardy–Weinberg principle, a basic principle of population genetics.
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...
1912 - 1954 (42 years)
Alan Mathison Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Despite these accomplishments, he was never fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime due to the prev...
1724 - 1804 (80 years)
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.
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.
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.
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.
1564 - 1642 (78 years)
Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath, from Pisa. Galileo has been called the "father of observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", the "father of the scientific method", and the "father of modern science".
1901 - 1983 (82 years)
Alfred Tarski , born Alfred Teitelbaum, was a Polish-American logician and mathematician of Polish-Jewish descent. Educated in Poland at the University of Warsaw, and a member of the Lwów–Warsaw school of logic and the Warsaw school of mathematics, he immigrated to the United States in 1939 where he became a naturalized citizen in 1945. Tarski taught and carried out research in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1942 until his death in 1983.
1889 - 1951 (62 years)
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
1902 - 1995 (93 years)
Eugene Paul "E. P." Wigner was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist and also contributed to mathematical physics. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles".
1571 - 1630 (59 years)
Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer. He is a key figure in the 17th-century scientific revolution, best known for his laws of planetary motion, and his books Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae. These works also provided one of the foundations for Newton's theory of universal gravitation.
1831 - 1916 (85 years)
Julius Wilhelm Richard Dedekind was a German mathematician who made important contributions to abstract algebra , axiomatic foundation for the natural numbers, algebraic number theory and the definition of the real numbers.
1815 - 1897 (82 years)
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.
1826 - 1866 (40 years)
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
1839 - 1914 (75 years)
Charles Sanders Peirce was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". He was educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for thirty years. Today he is appreciated largely for his contributions to logic, mathematics, philosophy, scientific methodology, and semiotics, and for his founding of pragmatism.
1170 - 1240 (70 years)
Fibonacci , also known as Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo of Pisa, or Leonardo Bigollo Pisano , was an Italian mathematician from the Republic of Pisa, considered to be "the most talented Western mathematician of the Middle Ages".
1823 - 1891 (68 years)
Leopold Kronecker was a German mathematician who worked on number theory, algebra and logic. He criticized Georg Cantor's work on set theory, and was quoted by as having said, "" . Kronecker was a student and lifelong friend of Ernst Kummer.
1926 - 2016 (90 years)
Hilary Whitehall Putnam was an American philosopher, mathematician, and computer scientist, and a major figure in analytic philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. He made significant contributions to philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of science. Outside philosophy, Putnam contributed to mathematics and computer science. Together with Martin Davis he developed the Davis–Putnam algorithm for the Boolean satisfiability problem and he helped demonstrate the unsolvability of Hilbert's tenth problem.
1858 - 1932 (74 years)
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
1445 - 1517 (72 years)
Fra Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli was an Italian mathematician, Franciscan friar, collaborator with Leonardo da Vinci, and an early contributor to the field now known as accounting. He is referred to as "The Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping" in Europe and he was the second person to publish a work on the double-entry system of book-keeping on the continent. He was also called Luca di Borgo after his birthplace, Borgo Sansepolcro, Tuscany.
1601 - 1665 (64 years)
Pierre de Fermat was a French lawyer at the Parlement of Toulouse, France, and a 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...
1623 - 1662 (39 years)
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic theologian. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences, where he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalising the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defence of the scientific method.
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.
1831 - 1879 (48 years)
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" after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.
1815 - 1864 (49 years)
George Boole was a largely self-taught English mathematician, philosopher and logician, most of whose short career was spent as the first professor of mathematics at Queen's College, Cork in Ireland. He worked in the fields of differential equations and algebraic logic, and is best known as the author of The Laws of Thought which contains Boolean algebra. Boolean logic is credited with laying the foundations for the information age. Boole maintained that:
1888 - 1972 (84 years)
Richard Courant was a German American mathematician. He is best known by the general public for the book What is Mathematics?, co-written with Herbert Robbins.
1882 - 1935 (53 years)
Amalie Emmy Noether was a German mathematician who made many important contributions to abstract algebra. She has also a famous theorem in mathematical physics known as Noether's theorem. 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 the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. In physics, Noether's theorem explains the connection between sym...
1859 - 1938 (79 years)
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a German philosopher who established the school of phenomenology. In his early work, he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic based on analyses of intentionality. In his mature work, he sought to develop a systematic foundational science based on the so-called phenomenological reduction. Arguing that transcendental consciousness sets the limits of all possible knowledge, Husserl redefined phenomenology as a transcendental-idealist philosophy. Husserl's thought profoundly influenced 20th-century philosophy, and he remains a notable ...
1881 - 1966 (85 years)
Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer , usually cited as L. E. J. Brouwer but known to his friends as Bertus, was a Dutch mathematician and philosopher, who worked in topology, set theory, measure theory and complex analysis. He was the founder of the mathematical philosophy of intuitionism, in which math is argued to be a mental construct rather than a type of objective truth.
1906 - 1998 (92 years)
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.
1249 - 1314 (65 years)
Zhu Shijie , courtesy name Hanqing , pseudonym Songting , was a Chinese mathematician and writer. He was one of the greatest Chinese mathematicians alive during the Yuan Dynasty. Zhu was born close to today's Beijing. Two of his mathematical works have survived. Introduction to Computational Studies , and Jade Mirror of the Four Unknowns.
1805 - 1865 (60 years)
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 elect
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.
1473 - 1543 (70 years)
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer, who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at the center of the universe, in all likelihood independently of Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model some eighteen centuries earlier.
1909 - 2005 (96 years)
Saunders Mac Lane was an American mathematician who co-founded category theory with Samuel Eilenberg.
1802 - 1829 (27 years)
Niels Henrik Abel was a Norwegian mathematician who made pioneering contributions in a variety of fields. His most famous single result is the first complete proof demonstrating the impossibility of solving the general quintic equation in radicals. This question was one of the outstanding open problems of his day, and had been unresolved for over 250 years. He was also an innovator in the field of elliptic functions, discoverer of Abelian functions. He made his discoveries while living in poverty and died at the age of 26 from tuberculosis.
1901 - 1976 (75 years)
Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics. He published his work in 1925 in a breakthrough paper. In the subsequent series of papers with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, during the same year, this matrix formulation of quantum mechanics was substantially elaborated. He is known for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which he published in 1927. Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the creation of quantum mechanics".