Mathematician:Mathematicians/Sorted By Nation/Egypt

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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.[1]


Ahmes (1681 BCE – 1621 BCE)

Egyptian scribe who wrote the Rhind Papyrus.
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Hypsicles of Alexandria (c. 190 – c. 120 BCE)

Alexandrian mathematician and astronomer best known for having Book $\text{XIV}$ of Euclid's The Elements attributed to him.

Whether or not he was also responsible for Book $\text{XV}$ of The Elements is still up for debate.

Also appears to have written a (now lost) work on polygonal numbers.
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Heron of Alexandria (c. 10 – c. 70 C.E.)

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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Menelaus of Alexandria (c. 70 – c. 140 C.E.)

Greek mathematician and astronomer.

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

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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Diophantus of Alexandria (between 200 and 214 C.E. – between 284 and 298 C.E.)

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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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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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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  1. Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics, 1937, Victor Gollancz, London.