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Who are the most influential people 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 dynamically change as our AI learns new things and new publications and citations are made. Academics are actively researching and publishing new insights, leaving our measure of more recent influence subject to continual adjustments. While we delay real-time changes for quality assurance reasons, be not surprised as you see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

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List of the most influential people in Computer Science, for the years 2000 – 2020

Bill Gates
# 1
Bill Gates

1955 - Present (66 years)

#80 person's overall influence

William Henry Gates III is an American business magnate, software developer, and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, chief executive officer , president and chief software architect, while also being the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. He is one of the best-known entrepreneurs and pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.

Randy Pausch
# 2
Randy Pausch

1960 - 2008 (48 years)

#2580 person's overall influence

Randolph Frederick Pausch was an American educator, a professor of computer science, human–computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mark Zuckerberg
# 3
Mark Zuckerberg

1984 - Present (37 years)

#308 person's overall influence

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American media magnate, internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is known for co-founding Facebook, Inc. and serves as its chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder. He also is a co-founder of the solar sail spacecraft development project Breakthrough Starshot and serves as one of its board members.

Andrew Y. Ng
# 4
Andrew Y. Ng

1976 - Present (45 years)

#7207 person's overall influence

Andrew Yan-Tak Ng is a British-born American businessman, computer scientist, investor, and writer. He is focusing on machine learning and AI. As a businessman and investor, Ng co-founded and led Google Brain and was a former Vice President and Chief Scientist at Baidu, building the company's Artificial Intelligence Group into a team of several thousand people.

Donald Knuth
# 5
Donald Knuth

1938 - Present (83 years)

#688 person's overall influence

Knuth is professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). As an undergraduate at the Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University), Knuth received the extraordinary honor of receiving his bachelor of science degree together with a master of science in mathematics based on the strength of his work at Case. He also helped redesign an early IBM computer while at Case, and made fundamental contributions to programming—writing a program to help predict the scores of basketba...

Tim Berners-Lee
# 6
Tim Berners-Lee

1955 - Present (66 years)

#409 person's overall influence

Tim Berners-Lee (also called “TimBL” or “TBL”) is a Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Berners-Lee is best known for inventing a markup language, the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) that has (of course) become the basis for Web pages. In a very real sense, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web! And more. In 2016, Berners-Lee received the prestigious Turing Award for “for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to sc...

Raj Reddy
# 7
Raj Reddy

1937 - Present (84 years)

#5679 person's overall influence

Reddy is the founding director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. The Robotics Institute at CMU is perhaps the world’s best center for robotics research in the world. (Robotics Business Review called it a “pacesetter in robotics research and education” in 2014.) Reddy is the Moza Bint Nasser Chair of Computer Science at CMU, and has been professor of computer science at Stanford during his stellar career of five decades. Reddy has had a major influence on the development of the field of robotics in artificial intelligence.

Marvin Minsky
# 8
Marvin Minsky

1927 - 2016 (89 years)

#617 person's overall influence

Marvin Lee Minsky was an American cognitive and computer scientist concerned largely with research of artificial intelligence , co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts concerning AI and philosophy.

# 9
Shriram Krishnamurthi
#36351 person's overall influence

Shriram Krishnamurthi is a computer scientist, currently a professor of computer science at Brown University and a member of the core development group for the Racket programming languages, responsible for creation of software packages including the Debugger, the FrTime package, and the networking library. Since 2006, Krishnamurthi has been a leading contributor to the Bootstrap curriculum, a project to integrate computer science education into grades 6–12.

Steve Jobs
# 10
Steve Jobs

1955 - 2011 (56 years)

#245 person's overall influence

Steven Paul Jobs was an American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor. He was the chairman, chief executive officer , and co-founder of Apple Inc., the chairman and majority shareholder of Pixar, a member of The Walt Disney Company's board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar, and the founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT. Jobs is widely recognized as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Richard Stallman
# 11
Richard Stallman

1953 - Present (68 years)

#948 person's overall influence

Richard Matthew Stallman , often known by his initials, rms, and occasionally upper-case RMS, is an American free software movement activist and programmer. He campaigns for software to be distributed in a manner such that its users receive the freedoms to use, study, distribute, and modify that software. Software that ensures these freedoms is termed free software. Stallman launched the GNU Project, founded the Free Software Foundation, developed the GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Emacs, and wrote the GNU General Public License.

Matthias Felleisen
# 12
Matthias Felleisen
#28352 person's overall influence

Matthias Felleisen is a German-American computer science professor and author. He grew up in Germany and immigrated to the US when he was 21 years old.

Eric Schmidt
# 13
Eric Schmidt

1955 - Present (66 years)

#790 person's overall influence

Eric Emerson Schmidt is an American businessman and software engineer. He is currently chair of the US Department of Defense's Defense Innovation Advisory Board. He is known for being the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, executive chairman of Google from 2011 to 2015, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. from 2015 to 2017, and Technical Advisor at Alphabet from 2017 to 2020. In 2017, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 119th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of US$11.1 billion.

Scott Aaronson
# 14
Scott Aaronson

1981 - Present (40 years)

#17002 person's overall influence

Aaronson is David J. Bruton Jr. Centennial Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin, a position he has held since 2016. Before UT, he was a professor of computer science at MIT. Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist who’s also one of the world’s leading experts in quantum computing, graduated from Cornell University with a degree in computer science (a minor in mathematics). He did his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

Wendy Hall
# 15
Wendy Hall

1952 - Present (69 years)

#6099 person's overall influence

Hall is Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton in the UK. She received her bachelor’s and Ph.D. in Mathematics at Southampton. She also has a master’s degree in Computing at City University in London.

Erik Demaine
# 16
Erik Demaine

1981 - Present (40 years)

#10008 person's overall influence

Demaine is a professor of computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His university education is extraordinary, because Demaine was a child prodigy. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Dalhousie University at age 14. By 20, he had completed his Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo. His dissertation on computational origami won Canada’s national prize for the best Ph.D. thesis in Canada in 2003.

Manuel Blum
# 17
Manuel Blum

1938 - Present (83 years)

#2971 person's overall influence

Manuel Blum is the Bruce Nelson Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Born in Venezuela, Blum has had an impressive career working on the theoretical underpinnings of programming and algorithms, notably computational complexity theory (roughly, how long it takes a program to solve a problem), cryptography (code making and breaking), and program verification and checking, an area of immense importance to practical software development.

Edward Snowden
# 18
Edward Snowden

1983 - Present (38 years)

#119 person's overall influence

# 19
Robert Bruce Findler
#43615 person's overall influence

Robert Bruce Findler, colloquially known as "Robby", is an American computer scientist, currently, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern University. He is also a member of the PLT group and, as such, responsible for the creation and maintenance of DrRacket. In addition to DrRacket, Findler has contributed numerous components to Racket and supervises its Web-based software library, called PLaneT. Findler is also a leading team member of the ProgramByDesign project.

Gerald Jay Sussman
# 20
Gerald Jay Sussman

1947 - Present (74 years)

#7013 person's overall influence

Gerald Jay Sussman is the Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned an S.B. and Ph.D. in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studying under Seymour Papert.

# 21
Matthew Flatt
#45940 person's overall influence

Matthew Flatt is an American computer scientist and professor at the University of Utah School of Computing in Salt Lake City. He is also a member of the core development team for the Racket programming language.

Larry Page
# 22
Larry Page

1973 - Present (48 years)

#1317 person's overall influence

Lawrence Edward Page is an American software engineer and Internet entrepreneur. He is best known as one of the co-founders of Google along with Sergey Brin.

Yann LeCun
# 23
Yann LeCun

1960 - Present (61 years)

#18002 person's overall influence

LeCun is one of the most important people in the subfield of computer science known as machine learning. In particular, he is one of the original scientists working on Deep Learning systems, which are enormously popular in work on Artificial Intelligence today. LeCun received his engineering degree from ESIEE in Paris in 1983, and his Ph.D. from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 1987.

Karen Petrie
# 24
Karen Petrie

1980 - Present (41 years)

#23751 person's overall influence

Karen Elizabeth Jefferson Petrie was born in the UK. She is currently Reader in the Department of Computing in the School of Science and Engineering at the University of Dundee in Scotland, as well as Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching of the same School.

Zvi Galil
# 25
Zvi Galil

1947 - Present (74 years)

#13560 person's overall influence

Zvi Galil is a computer scientist and mathematician who is the former dean of the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing. He earned a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in applied mathematics from Tel Aviv University (where he eventually served as president). He went on to earn a Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University.

Linus Torvalds
# 26
Linus Torvalds

1969 - Present (52 years)

#2538 person's overall influence

Torvalds is world-famous for designing and developing the open-source Linux operating system. Born in Finland, Torvalds attended the University of Helsinki and received his master’s in Computer Science in 1996. Torvalds academic pursuits were temporarily suspended upon joining the Finnish Army, where he held the rank of Second Lieutenant. After his service, he began conceptualizing a scaled-down version of the massive UNIX operating system, which is still used for computer servers worldwide, and is the basis even for the Android operating system used in smartphones. His brainchild, Linux,

Sebastian Thrun
# 27
Sebastian Thrun

1967 - Present (54 years)

#11999 person's overall influence

Sebastian Thrun is an entrepreneur, educator, and computer scientist from Germany. He is CEO of Kitty Hawk Corporation, and chairman and co-founder of Udacity. Before that, he was a Google VP and Fellow, a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, and before that at Carnegie Mellon University. At Google, he founded Google X and Google's self-driving car team. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University and at Georgia Tech.

Hal Abelson
# 28
Hal Abelson

1947 - Present (74 years)

#12284 person's overall influence

Hal Abelson is the founding director of Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a B.A. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tony Hoare
# 29
Tony Hoare

1934 - Present (87 years)

#2272 person's overall influence

Sir Charles Antony Richard Hoare is a British computer scientist. He developed the sorting algorithm quicksort in 1959–1960. He also developed Hoare logic for verifying program correctness, and the formal language communicating sequential processes to specify the interactions of concurrent processeses and the inspiration for the programming language occam.

Sergey Brin
# 30
Sergey Brin

1973 - Present (48 years)

#1788 person's overall influence

Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin is an American software engineer and Internet entrepreneur. Together with Larry Page, he co-founded Google. Brin was the president of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., until stepping down from the role on December 3, 2019. Brin and Page remain at Alphabet as co-founders, controlling shareholders, board members, and employees. As of July 2020, Brin is the 7th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$67.6 billion.

Raymond Kurzweil
# 31
Raymond Kurzweil

1948 - Present (73 years)

#685 person's overall influence

Raymond Kurzweil is an American inventor and futurist. He is involved in fields such as optical character recognition , text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He has written books on health, artificial intelligence , transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism. Kurzweil is a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements and gives public talks to share his optimistic outlook on life extension technologies and the future of nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology.

Daphne Koller
# 32
Daphne Koller

1968 - Present (53 years)

#15053 person's overall influence

Koller is a professor of computer science at Stanford University. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1985, and her Ph.D. from Stanford in 1993. Her former students include notable computer scientists Ben Tasker, Suchi Saria, and Eran Segal.

Elon Musk
# 33
Elon Musk

1971 - Present (50 years)

#450 person's overall influence

Elon Reeve Musk is a business magnate, industrial designer, engineer, and philanthropist. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2018. In 2018, he was ranked 25th on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. As of September 2, 2020, his net worth was estimated by Forb

Christos Papadimitriou
# 34
Christos Papadimitriou

1949 - Present (72 years)

#9521 person's overall influence

Christos Harilaos Papadimitriou is a Greek theoretical computer scientist and the Donovan Family Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University.

# 35
Janet Abbate

1962 - Present (59 years)

#20838 person's overall influence

Janet Abbate is an associate professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on the history of computer science and the Internet, particularly on the participation of women.

Aaron Swartz
# 36
Aaron Swartz

1986 - 2013 (27 years)

#4346 person's overall influence

Aaron Hillel Swartz was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist. He was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS, the Markdown publishing format, the organization Creative Commons, and the website framework web.py, and was a co-founder of the social news site Reddit. He was given the title of co-founder of Reddit by Y Combinator owner Paul Graham after the formation of Not a Bug, Inc. .

Geoffrey Hinton
# 37
Geoffrey Hinton

1947 - Present (74 years)

#1978 person's overall influence

Hinton has been called one of the “Godfathers of Artificial Intelligence” by media sources for his work on a neural network system known as “Deep Learning.” He divides his year between working for Google Brain, the influential AI group at Google, and as a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Sue Black
# 38
Sue Black

1962 - Present (59 years)

#25388 person's overall influence

Susan Elizabeth Black is a British computer scientist, academic and social entrepreneur. She has been instrumental in saving Bletchley Park, the site of World War II codebreaking, with her Saving Bletchley Park campaign. Since 2018, she has been Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University. She was previously based at the University of Westminster and University College London.

# 39
Lance Fortnow

1963 - Present (58 years)

#55982 person's overall influence

Lance Jeremy Fortnow is a computer scientist known for major results in computational complexity and interactive proof systems. He is currently Dean of the College of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Peter Norvig
# 40
Peter Norvig

1956 - Present (65 years)

#8389 person's overall influence

Peter Norvig is an American computer scientist. He is a director of research at Google Inc., and used to be its director of search quality.

Bertrand Meyer
# 41
Bertrand Meyer

1950 - Present (71 years)

#12613 person's overall influence

Bertrand Meyer is a French academic, author, and consultant in the field of computer languages. He created the Eiffel programming language and the idea of design by contract.

Andries van Dam
# 42
Andries van Dam

1938 - Present (83 years)

#3890 person's overall influence

Andries "Andy" van Dam is a Dutch-American professor of computer science and former vice-president for research at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Together with Ted Nelson he contributed to the first hypertext system, Hypertext Editing System in the late 1960s. He co-authored Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice along with J.D. Foley, S.K. Feiner, and John Hughes. He also co-founded the precursor of today's ACM SIGGRAPH conference.

Subhash Khot
# 43
Subhash Khot

1978 - Present (43 years)

#17498 person's overall influence

Khot is Julius Silver Professor of Computer Science in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. Khot received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2003.

Shafrira Goldwasser
# 44
Shafrira Goldwasser

1958 - Present (63 years)

#12233 person's overall influence

Shafrira “Shafi” Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of Computer Science at MIT, as well as Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, and a master’s and Ph.D. from The University of California at Berkeley.

Seymour Papert
# 45
Seymour Papert

1928 - 2016 (88 years)

#2283 person's overall influence

Seymour Aubrey Papert was a South African-born American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator, who spent most of his career teaching and researching at MIT. He was one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, and of the constructionist movement in education. He was co-inventor, with Wally Feurzeig and Cynthia Solomon, of the Logo programming language.

Thelma Estrin
# 46
Thelma Estrin

1924 - 2014 (90 years)

#4129 person's overall influence

Thelma Estrin was an American computer scientist and engineer who did pioneering work in the fields of expert systems and biomedical engineering. She was one of the first to apply computer technology to healthcare and medical research. She was professor emerita in the Department of Computer Science, University of California at Los Angeles.

# 47
Faron Moller

1962 - Present (59 years)

#48473 person's overall influence

Faron George Moller is a Canadian-born British computer scientist and expert on theoretical computer science, particularly infinite-state automata theory and temporal logic. His work has focussed on structural decomposition techniques for analysing abstract models of computing systems. He is founding Director of the Swansea Railway Verification Group; Director of Technocamps; and Head of the Institute of Coding in Wales.

Madhu Sudan
# 48
Madhu Sudan

1966 - Present (55 years)

#37365 person's overall influence

Madhu Sudan is an Indian-American computer scientist. He has been a Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences since 2015.

Telle Whitney
# 49
Telle Whitney

1965 - Present (56 years)

#34457 person's overall influence

Telle Whitney is the former CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. A computer scientist by training, she cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing with Anita Borg in 1994 and joined the Anita Borg Institute in 2002.

Bill Joy
# 50
Bill Joy

1954 - Present (67 years)

#1876 person's overall influence

William Nelson Joy is an American computer engineer and venture capitalist. He co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 along with Scott McNealy, Vinod Khosla, and Andy Bechtolsheim, and served as CTO at the company until 2003. He played an integral role in the early development of BSD UNIX while being a graduate student at Berkeley, and he is the original author of the vi text editor. He also wrote the 2000 essay Why The Future Doesn't Need Us, in which he expressed deep concerns over the development of modern technologies.