The Most Famous

MATHEMATICIANS from Hungary

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This page contains a list of the greatest Hungarian Mathematicians. The pantheon dataset contains 828 Mathematicians, 18 of which were born in Hungary. This makes Hungary the birth place of the 10th most number of Mathematicians behind Ukraine and Switzerland.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Hungarian Mathematicians of all time. This list of famous Hungarian Mathematicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Hungarian Mathematicians.

Photo of John von Neumann

1. John von Neumann (1903 - 1957)

With an HPI of 82.05, John von Neumann is the most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 90 different languages on wikipedia.

John von Neumann (; Hungarian: Neumann János Lajos, pronounced [ˈnɒjmɒn ˈjaːnoʃ ˈlɒjoʃ]; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) 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. Von Neumann made major contributions to many fields, including mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, representation theory, operator algebras, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and quantum statistical mechanics), economics (game theory), computing (Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics. He was a pioneer of the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics in the development of functional analysis, and a key figure in the development of game theory and the concepts of cellular automata, the universal constructor and the digital computer. Von Neumann published over 150 papers in his life: about 60 in pure mathematics, 60 in applied mathematics, 20 in physics, and the remainder on special mathematical subjects or non-mathematical ones. His last work, an unfinished manuscript written while he was in the hospital, was later published in book form as The Computer and the Brain. His analysis of the structure of self-replication preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA. In a short list of facts about his life he submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, he wrote, "The part of my work I consider most essential is that on quantum mechanics, which developed in Göttingen in 1926, and subsequently in Berlin in 1927–1929. Also, my work on various forms of operator theory, Berlin 1930 and Princeton 1935–1939; on the ergodic theorem, Princeton, 1931–1932."During World War II, von Neumann worked on the Manhattan Project with theoretical physicist Edward Teller, mathematician Stanislaw Ulam and others, problem-solving key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb. He developed the mathematical models behind the explosive lenses used in the implosion-type nuclear weapon and coined the term "kiloton" (of TNT) as a measure of the explosive force generated. After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and consulted for organizations including the United States Air Force, the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As a Hungarian émigré, concerned that the Soviets would achieve nuclear superiority, he designed and promoted the policy of mutually assured destruction to limit the arms race.

Photo of Paul Erdős

2. Paul Erdős (1913 - 1996)

With an HPI of 73.70, Paul Erdős is the 2nd most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Paul Erdős (Hungarian: Erdős Pál [ˈɛrdøːʃ ˈpaːl]; 26 March 1913 – 20 September 1996) 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 (he engaged more than 500 collaborators) and for his eccentric lifestyle (Time magazine called him The Oddball's Oddball). 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. Erdős pursued and proposed problems in discrete mathematics, graph theory, number theory, mathematical analysis, approximation theory, set theory, and probability theory. Much of his work centered around discrete mathematics, cracking many previously unsolved problems in the field. He championed and contributed to Ramsey theory, which studies the conditions in which order necessarily appears. Overall, his work leaned towards solving previously open problems, rather than developing or exploring new areas of mathematics. Erdős published around 1,500 mathematical papers during his lifetime, a figure that remains unsurpassed. He firmly believed mathematics to be a social activity, living an itinerant lifestyle with the sole purpose of writing mathematical papers with other mathematicians. Erdős's prolific output with co-authors prompted the creation of the Erdős number, the number of steps in the shortest path between a mathematician and Erdős in terms of co-authorships.

Photo of George Pólya

3. George Pólya (1887 - 1985)

With an HPI of 70.16, George Pólya is the 3rd most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

George Pólya (; Hungarian: Pólya György [ˈpoːjɒ ˈɟørɟ]) (December 13, 1887 – September 7th, 1985) was a Hungarian mathematician. He was a professor of mathematics from 1914 to 1940 at ETH Zürich and from 1940 to 1953 at Stanford University. He made fundamental contributions to combinatorics, number theory, numerical analysis and probability theory. He is also noted for his work in heuristics and mathematics education. He has been described as one of The Martians.

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4. Marcel Grossmann (1878 - 1936)

With an HPI of 67.73, Marcel Grossmann is the 4th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Marcel Grossmann (April 9, 1878 – September 7, 1936) was a mathematician and a friend and classmate of Albert Einstein. Grossmann was a member of an old Swiss family from Zurich. His father managed a textile factory. He became a Professor of Mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich, today the ETH Zurich, specializing in descriptive geometry.

Photo of Rudolf E. Kálmán

5. Rudolf E. Kálmán (1930 - 2016)

With an HPI of 65.63, Rudolf E. Kálmán is the 5th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Rudolf Emil Kálmán (May 19, 1930 – July 2, 2016) was an Hungarian-American electrical engineer, mathematician, and inventor. He is most noted for his co-invention and development of the Kalman filter, a mathematical algorithm that is widely used in signal processing, control systems, and guidance, navigation and control. For this work, U.S. President Barack Obama awarded Kálmán the National Medal of Science on October 7, 2009.

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6. John G. Kemeny (1926 - 1992)

With an HPI of 64.38, John G. Kemeny is the 6th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

John George Kemeny (born Kemény János György; May 31, 1926 – December 26, 1992) was a Hungarian-born American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator best known for co-developing the BASIC programming language in 1964 with Thomas E. Kurtz. Kemeny served as the 13th President of Dartmouth College from 1970 to 1981 and pioneered the use of computers in college education. Kemeny chaired the presidential commission that investigated the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. According to György Marx he was one of The Martians.

Photo of Frigyes Riesz

7. Frigyes Riesz (1880 - 1956)

With an HPI of 63.44, Frigyes Riesz is the 7th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Frigyes Riesz (Hungarian: Riesz Frigyes, pronounced [ˈriːs ˈfriɟɛʃ], sometimes spelled as Frederic; 22 January 1880 – 28 February 1956) was a Hungarian mathematician who made fundamental contributions to functional analysis, as did his younger brother Marcel Riesz.

Photo of Peter Lax

8. Peter Lax (1926 - )

With an HPI of 62.75, Peter Lax is the 8th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Peter David Lax (born Lax Péter Dávid; 1 May 1926) is a Hungarian-born American mathematician working in the areas of pure and applied mathematics. Lax has made important contributions to integrable systems, fluid dynamics and shock waves, solitonic physics, hyperbolic conservation laws, and mathematical and scientific computing, among other fields. In a 1958 paper Lax stated a conjecture about matrix representations for third order hyperbolic polynomials which remained unproven for over four decades. Interest in the "Lax conjecture" grew as mathematicians working in several different areas recognized the importance of its implications in their field, until it was finally proven to be true in 2003.

Photo of Paul Halmos

9. Paul Halmos (1916 - 2006)

With an HPI of 62.67, Paul Halmos is the 9th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Paul Richard Halmos (Hungarian: Halmos Pál; March 3, 1916 – October 2, 2006) was a Hungarian-born American mathematician and statistician who made fundamental advances in the areas of mathematical logic, probability theory, statistics, operator theory, ergodic theory, and functional analysis (in particular, Hilbert spaces). He was also recognized as a great mathematical expositor. He has been described as one of The Martians.

Photo of Endre Szemerédi

10. Endre Szemerédi (1940 - )

With an HPI of 61.45, Endre Szemerédi is the 10th most famous Hungarian Mathematician.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Endre Szemerédi (Hungarian: [ˈɛndrɛ ˈsɛmɛreːdi]; born August 21, 1940) is a Hungarian-American mathematician and computer scientist, working in the field of combinatorics and theoretical computer science. He has been the State of New Jersey Professor of computer science at Rutgers University since 1986. He also holds a professor emeritus status at the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Szemerédi has won prizes in mathematics and science, including the Abel Prize in 2012. He has made a number of discoveries in combinatorics and computer science, including Szemerédi's theorem, the Szemerédi regularity lemma, the Erdős–Szemerédi theorem, the Hajnal–Szemerédi theorem and the Szemerédi–Trotter theorem.

Pantheon has 18 people classified as mathematicians born between 1878 and 1948. Of these 18, 4 (22.22%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living mathematicians include Peter Lax, Endre Szemerédi, and László Lovász. The most famous deceased mathematicians include John von Neumann, Paul Erdős, and George Pólya. As of October 2020, 1 new mathematicians have been added to Pantheon including Lipót Fejér.

Living Mathematicians

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Deceased Mathematicians

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Newly Added Mathematicians (2020)

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Which Mathematicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 14 most globally memorable Mathematicians since 1700.