The Joy of X

  • 570 BCE


    Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher. His most notable contribution to mathematics is the Pythagorean theorem: a^2+b^2=c^2. This formula can be applied to a right-angled triangle to find any missing side length. He also discovered the five regular solids, the Theory of Proportions, the sphericity of the Earth, and the identity of the morning and evening stars as the planet, Venus. Photo
  • 495 BCE

    Zeno of Elea

    Zeno of Elea
    Zeno of Elea was a Greek philosopher best known for his paradoxes, some of them concerning the concept of infinity that puzzled his contemporaries and may have been partly to blame for infinity’s banishment from mathematics for centuries thereafter. Photo
  • 350 BCE


    Euclid of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and one of the most influential mathematicians of all time. Often referred to as “the father of geometry”, his Elements is one of the most important and influential works in the history of mathematics and the most reprinted textbook of all time. He managed to deduce the theorems of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Photo
  • 780

    Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi

    Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi
    Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian polymath who greatly influenced mathematics, astronomy, and geography. He is best known for presenting the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. The word algebra is derived from the title of his book, called Al-jabr, which means restoring, referring to the method by which he solved these equations. Photo
  • 1512

    Robert Recorde

    Robert Recorde
    Robert Recorde was a Welsh physician and mathematician best known for inventing the equals sign, as well as introduced the plus sign to English speakers. The equals sign is made up of two equal-sized parallel lines as Recorde said: “No two things can be more equal”. Photo
  • 1564

    Galileo Galilei

    Galileo Galilei
    Galileo Galilei was an influential astronomer, physicist and engineer known for pioneering many different areas of knowledge, including observational astronomy, modern physics, the scientific method and modern science. His discoveries include laws about projectiles and planets, Jupiter’s moons, and the first pendulum clock, just to name a few. Photo
  • 1571

    Johannes Kepler

    Johannes Kepler
    Kepler was a German astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who is best known for his laws of planetary motion. His work provided the foundations for Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. He was also mentioned in the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei. Photo
  • Baruch Spinoza

    Baruch Spinoza
    Baruch Spinoza was an important philosopher of the early modern period. His book, entitled Ethics echoes Euclid’s deductive approach for logical reasoning.
  • Isaac Newton

    Isaac Newton
    Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author, and is one of the most important mathematicians and scientists of all time as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His notable contributions to mathematics include Newton’s method, a powerful algorithm for finding roots of equations in the complex plane, his work on the fundamental theorem of calculus and differential equations. Photo
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

    Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
    Gottfried Leibniz was a German polymath and one of the most important logicians, mathematicians, and natural philosophers of the Enlightenment. He is best known for developing the present-day notation for differential and integral calculus, as well as his contributions in establishing the fundamental theorem of calculus. Photo
  • Luigi Guido Grandi

    Luigi Guido Grandi
    Guido Grandi was an Italian monk, priest, philosopher, theologian, mathematician, and engineer. He is best known for having the infinite series 1-1+1-1… named after him. Grandi said the sum of the series could change depending on where you decide to add parentheses. However, Grandi believed that the true sum of this series is 1/2. Photo
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss

    Carl Friedrich Gauss
    Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician and physicist who is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians since antiquity. He contributed and pioneered in many different areas of math, including differential geometry, algebra, and non-euclidean geometry. Photo
  • Samuel Morse

    Samuel Morse
    Samuel Morse was an American inventor and painter known for his contributions to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs, as well as a co-developer of Morse code. Photo
  • Ezra Cornell

    Ezra Cornell
    Ezra Cornell was an American businessman, politician, and philanthropist best town for being the founder of Western Union and a co-founder of Cornell University. Photo
  • Hippolyte Fizeau

    Hippolyte Fizeau
    Hippolyte Fizeau was a French physicist who is best known for conducting the first terrestrial measurement of the speed of light when he projected a pulsed beam of light onto a distant mirror. Photo
  • Bernhard Riemann

    Bernhard Riemann
    Bernhard Riemann was a German mathematician who made major contributions to analysis, number theory, and differential geometry. In the field of real analysis, he is known for the first rigorous formulation of the integral, the Riemann integral, and his work on the Fourier series. His work laid the mathematical foundation for Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Photo
  • James Clerk Maxwell

    James Clerk Maxwell
    James Maxwell was a Scottish mathematical physicist best known for his unification of electricity, magnetism, and light by formulating a series of equations, creating a new field known as electromagnetic radiation, and paved the way for vector calculus. Photo
  • Georg Cantor

    Georg Cantor
    Georg Cantor was a German mathematician who created set theory, which became a fundamental theory in math. During his research, he discovered that some infinities are bigger than others. Photo
  • Henri Poincaré

    Henri Poincaré
    Henri Poincaré was a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science. He made many important contributions to pure and applied mathematics, mathematical physics, and celestial mechanics. He also laid the foundations of modern chaos theory with his discovery of a chaotic deterministic system and is considered one of the pioneers in topology. Photo
  • David Hilbert

    David Hilbert
    David Hilbert was a German mathematician and one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th and 20th centuries. He contributed to many areas of math, including invariant theory, the calculus of variations, commutative algebra, algebraic number theory, the foundations of geometry, and much more. One of the problems he proposed is called the Hilbert Hotel Paradox, which explores the different infinities. Photo
  • Albert Einstein

    Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein was a German theoretical physicist and widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. He is best known for developing the theory of relativity and his famous equation E=mc^2, but also contributed to the theory of quantum mechanics. Photo
  • Werner Heisenberg

    Werner Heisenberg
    Werner Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the creation of quantum mechanics”. Photo
  • Paul Dirac

    Paul Dirac
    Paul Dirac was an English theoretical physicist who was one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century. He was a major contributor to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. Photo
  • Murray Gell-Mann

    Murray Gell-Mann
    Murray Gell-Mann was an American physicist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. His life can be used as an allegory for the commutative law, as after not being able to get into the schools he wanted to, he wanted to commit suicide. However, he realized that he could first study at the university he did get into (MIT) and kill himself later. Photo