Mathematician:Mathematicians/Sorted By Birth/0 - 500 CE

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For more comprehensive information on the lives and works of mathematicians through the ages, see the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, created by John J. O'Connor and Edmund F. Robertson.

The army of those who have made at least one definite contribution to mathematics as we know it soon becomes a mob as we look back over history; 6,000 or 8,000 names press forward for some word from us to preserve them from oblivion, and once the bolder leaders have been recognised it becomes largely a matter of arbitrary, illogical legislation to judge who of the clamouring multitude shall be permitted to survive and who be condemned to be forgotten.'
-- Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics, 1937, Victor Gollancz, London

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$0$ – $100$

Heron of Alexandria (c. 10 – c. 70 CE)

Heron (or Hero) of Alexandria (Greek: Ἥρων ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς) was a Greek mathematician and engineer.

Famous for writing about the aeolipile, otherwise known as Hero's Engine (although he didn't actually invent it), and the device known as Heron's fountain.

Also noted for Heron's formula for calculating the area of a triangle whose side lengths are known.
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Nicomachus of Gerasa (c. 60 – c. 120 CE)

Nicomachus (Greek: Νικόμαχος) was a Neo-Pythagorean about whom very little is known.

Unusual in that he used the system of Arabic numerals rather than the then-current cumbersome Roman numerals.

Famously made some conjectures about perfect numbers which were soon shown to be false.

Appears to have had more influence than his (perhaps limited) abilities may have merited.
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Theon of Smyrna (c. 70 – c. 135 CE)

Greek: Θέων ὁ Σμυρναῖος.

Greek philosopher and mathematician, whose works were strongly influenced by the Pythagorean school of thought.

Made astronomical observations of Mercury and Venus between 127 and 132, as reported by Ptolemy.
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Menelaus of Alexandria (c. 70 – c. 140 CE)

Greek mathematician and astronomer.

Very little is known about him.
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Ptolemy (c. 90 – c. 168 CE)

Latin name: Claudius Ptolemaeus, in Greek: Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος (Klaúdios Ptolemaîos), but known generally as Ptolemy (pronounced Toll-em-ee).

Roman citizen, of either Greek or Egyptian ancestry.

Mathematician, astronomer and general all-round scientist.

Best known for being the author of several scientific works, including Almagest.
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$101$ – $200$

$201$ – $300$

Diophantus of Alexandria (between 200 and 214 CE – between 284 and 298 CE)

Author of a series of books called Arithmetica, some of which are now lost, concerning the solution of algebraic equations.

Sometimes referred to as "the father of algebra", but some claim the title should belong to Al-Khwarizmi.
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Iamblichus Chalcidensis (c. 245 – c. 325)

Usually known as Iamblichus. His name in Ancient Greek is Ἰάμβλιχος, probably from Syriac or Aramaic ya-mlku, "He is king".

Assyrian philosopher of the neo-Platonist school.

His main involvement in mathematics concerns the fact that he may have known the $5$th perfect number, but there is no hard evidence of this fact.
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Pappus of Alexandria (c. 290 – c. 350)

One of the last great Greek mathematicians of antiquity.

Very little is known about him, except that he flourished at around 320 CE through dint of the eclipse of the sun in Alexandria in that year which he discussed in his commentary on Ptolemy's Almagest.

Noted for his multi-volume Collection, and for Pappus's Hexagon Theorem.
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Serenus of Antinoupolis (c. 300 – c. 360)

Egyptian mathematician known for his commentary on the Conics of Apollonius of Perga.

This is now lost. We know about it through the writings of Theon of Alexandria.

Also wrote at least two original works of his own, whose survival is directly due to their association with Conics.
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$301$ – $400$

Theon of Alexandria (c. 335 – 405)

Greek: Θέων.

Alexandrian mathematician and astronomer.

Best known for being the father of Hypatia of Alexandria.

His edition of Euclid's The Elements was an authority until well into the 19th century.
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Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 360 – 415)

Greek: Ὑπατία.

Egyptian mathematician, astronomer, scientist and philosopher. Daughter of Theon of Alexandria.

Head of Platonist school in Alexandria in c. 400 CE.

Notable for:

  • Being the first woman in mathematics notable enough to have been remembered by history;
  • Being murdered by a mob of Christians for holding pagan beliefs.

Her death has been argued as signalling the decline of learning in the Western world, and the start of the "dark ages", from which recovery would not happen for another thousand years.
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Sun Tzu (c. 400 – c. 460)

Otherwise known as Sun Zi.

Chinese mathematician and astronomer.

Best known for his work on Diophantine equations. His work is the source of the Chinese Remainder Theorem.
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$401$ – $500$

Proclus Lycaeus (412 – 485)

Greek philosopher (usually known as Proclus, also as Proclus Diadochus) who among other things produced a commentary on Book $\text I$ of Euclid's The Elements.
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Zu Chongzhi (429 – 501)

Zu Chongzhi (simplified Chinese: 祖冲之; traditional Chinese: 祖冲之; pinyin: Zǔ Chōngzhī; Wade–Giles: Tsu Ch'ung-chih), courtesy name Wenyuan (文遠), was a prominent Chinese mathematician and astronomer.

Father of Zu Geng.

Derived the most accurate approximation for $\pi$ for over nine hundred years.
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Isidorus of Miletus (442 – 537)

One of the two main Byzantine Greek architects (with Anthemius of Tralles) that Emperor Justinian I commissioned to design the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople from $532$ – $537$.

He also created the first comprehensive compilation of Archimedes' works.
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Zu Geng (c. 450 – c. 520)

Also known as Zu Gengzhi (simplified Chinese: 祖暅之; traditional Chinese: 祖暅之; pinyin: Zǔ Gèngzhī; Wade–Giles: Tsu Kengchi; 480 - 525), courtesy name Jing Shuo (景烁).

Son of Zu Chongzhi.

Chinese mathematician who determined how to compute the diameter of a sphere of a given volume. He did this using a generalized version of Cavalieri's Principle.
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Aryabhata the Elder (476 – 550)

Indian mathematician and astronomer.

An early believer in the irrationality of $\pi$, and developed an approximation for it of $3.1416$.

Developed a positional system of numerals in C. 500, but it lacked a symbol for zero.
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Eutocius of Ascalon (c. 480 – c. 540)

Palestinian philisopher about whom little is known. He wrote commentaries on works of Apollonius and Archimedes.

It is possible that Eutocius studied in Alexandria and became its head.
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