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Famous people who majored in mathematics

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This was taken from a list compiled by Steven G. Buyske which appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly, Vol 100 No 9 (November 1993) p 845--846. To help us add to the list check out the bottom of this page.

The Public Realm

Ralph Abernathy
Civil rights leader and Martin Luther King's closest aide.

Corazon Aquino
Former President of the Philippines. She was a math minor.

Harry Blackmun
Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, AB summa cum laude in mathematics at Harvard.

David Dinkins
Mayor of New York, BA in mathematics from Howard.

Alberto Fujimori
President of Peru, MS in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Ira Glasser
Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, both a BS and an MA.

Lee Hsien Loong
Deputy prime minister of Singapore, a Bachelor's from Cambridge.

Florence Nightingale
pioneer in professional nursing. She was the first person in the English-speaking world to apply statistics to public health. She was also a pioneer in the graphic representation of statistics; the pie-chart was her invention, for example. Not really a math major, she was privately educated, but pursued mathematics far beyond contemporary standards for women.

Paul Painleve
President of France in the early 20th century, and one of the first passengers of the Wright Brothers. A ringer: he had a distinguished mathematical career

Carl T. Rowan,
columnist for the Washington Post.
Laurence H. Tribe
Professor at Harvard Law School, often regarded as one of the great contemporary authorities on Constitutional Law. An AB summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard.

Leon Trotsky
revolutionary. He began to study pure mathematics at Odessa in 1897, but imprisonment and exile in Siberia seem to have ended his mathematical efforts.

Eamon de Valera
long-time Prime Minister and then President of the Republic of Ireland. A ringer: he was a mathematics professor before Irish independence.


Ernst Ansermet
Founder and conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Pierre Boulez
Modernist composer and conductor.

Clifford Brown
Fifties jazz trumpeter

Art Garfunkel
folk-rock singer. MA in mathematics from Columbia in 1967. Worked on a PhD at Columbia, but chose to pursue his musical career instead.

Phillip Glass
Composer, a Bachelor's from the University of Chicago.

Carole King
Sixties songwriter, and later a singer-songwriter. She dropped out after one year of college to pursue her music career.

Tom Lehrer
Songwriter-parodist. PhD student in mathematics at Harvard. Currently a math professor at UC Santa Cruz

Lawrence Leighton Smith
Conductor and pianist

The other arts

Lewis Carroll
Author of Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and other works. A ringer: he was logician under his real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Heloise (Ponce Cruse Evans)
of Hints from Heloise. She minored in math.

Larry Niven
Science fiction wiriter, winner of the Nebula and Hugo awards.

Omar Khayyam
Author of The Rubaiyat. Another ringer: he published works on algebra and Euclid

Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Nobel prize-winning novelist, a degree in mathematics and physics from the university of Rostov.

Bram Stoker
Author of Dracula, took honors at Trinity University, Dublin.

Christopher Wren
The architect of St. Paul's Chatedral in London.


John Maynard Keynes
The great economist. MA and 12th Wrangler, Cambridge University.

J. Pierpont Morgan
The banking, steel, and railroad magnate. Some of the Gottigen faculty tried to convince him to become a professional mathematician.

Ed Torpe
One of the inventors of program-trading on Wall Street.


Edmund Husserl
the "Father of Phenomenology," PhD 1883 from Vienna.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
One of the giants of twentieth-century philosophy. Studied mathematical logic with Bertrand Russell.

Athletes and other competitors

Michael Jordon
Basketball superstar. He changed to another major in his junior year.
Davey Johnson
Manager of the 1896 New York Mets.
Emanuel Lasker
World chess champion from 1894--1921. Another ringer: he was a mathematics professor with several published papers.
Frank Ryan
Star quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in the sixties. PhD from Rice.
Virgina Wade
Wimbledon champion, BS in mathematics and physics from Sussex.

Literary criminals

James Moriarty
Former Professor of Mathematics, author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, whose essay on the binomial theorem is said to have had a continental vogue, became the leader of the most sinister criminal conspiracy in Victorian England. He has been called "the Napoleon of Crime." Sherlock Holmes's nemesis.

Help add to the list!

Send your own suggestion for famous non-mathematicians with undergraduate degrees in mathematics to us. Give as much information as you can. Feedback: Feedback

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Last update: Friday, November 17, 2006 at 15:26.