Ancient Greek Mathematicians Who are Revered Across the Globe

Ancient Greek Mathematicians
Ancient Greece is the homeland of drama, government and learning in all spheres of knowledge. Read on to learn more about famous Greeks who changed the face of the field of mathematics.
ScienceStruck Staff
Last Updated: Aug 9, 2018
Early civilizations were powerhouses of knowledge, research and expertise in nearly every realm or sphere of learning. One such civilization was the ancient Greeks, who lived in the time period between 8th and 6th centuries BC.
Perhaps the very cradle, foundation, birthplace, whatever you may term it - the creation of Western civilization as we know and live in today, was born in this era of Greece. The ancient Greeks taught the world about politics and government, including how to rule countries based on states and regions.
They created the concept of plays and drama, of philosophy and theology and of art in everything, be it buildings, sculptures or paintings. Their rich mythology, deities, legends, etc. influence and fascinate us, even today. And their contributions to the field of science and technology cannot be ignored, particularly in the field of mathematics.
Of all the world's most famous mathematicians, many noted and valuable mathematical solutions, theories and facts are thanks to the ancient Greeks. From the Pythagorean theorem to the distance between the sun and the earth, the contributions of the ancient Greeks to the field of mathematics are indispensable.
So in honor of such great minds and the fruits of their labor, that have made man what he is today. Here are some famous ancient Greek mathematicians along with their mathematical achievements.
List of Ancient Greek Mathematicians
Archytas (428 BC - 347 BC)
Area of Birth: Unknown

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Founder of mathematical mechanics - using the concepts of maths in machines
  • Inceptor of the idea of a harmonic mean
  • Creator of the Archytas mean
Archimedes (287 BC - 212 BC)
death of Archimedes engraving 1894
Area of Birth: Syracuse
Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Created the method of exhaustion
  • Found out value of π (pi)
  • Proved that area of a circle can be calculated by formula π x r 2(radius of circle)
  • Created Archimedean property of real numbers
  • Proved that area enclosed by a straight line and a parabola is 4/3 times the area of a triangle inscribed in the parabola
Chrysippus (279 BC - 206 BC)
Area of Birth: Soli

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Contributed to the concept of the infinite set
  • Sole Greek mathematician to claim "one" is a numeral
Democritus (460 BC - 370 BC)
Democritus Mathematician
Area of Birth: Abdera
Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Carried out predominant research into the geometric shapes of cones and pyramids
  • Noted that a cone/pyramid has ⅓ volume of a cylinder or prism with same base and height measurements
Dionysodorus (250 BC - 190 BC)
Area of Birth: Caunus

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Credited with using the concept of an intersection between a hyperbola and a parabola to solve cubic equations, a previously unthought of idea
  • Wrote On the Tore, mathematical work dealing with the geometric shape torus and its calculations
Diophantus (200 C.E - 284 C.E)
Area of Birth: Alexandria

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Wrote The Arithmetica series, a collection of 13 books which is thought to be the best written work on algebra
  • Written books on polygonal numbers and various algebraic lemmas
Eratosthenes (276 BC - 195 BC)
Area of Birth: Cyrene

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Devised the Sieve of Eratosthenes, which is an algorithm for locating prime numbers from the numeral system
  • Calculated the distance between the sun and the Earth, the tilt of the Earth's axis and the circumference of the Earth
Euclid (300 BC - Unknown)
Euclid (c. 360 BC-280 BC), Greek mathematician, published 1882
Area of Birth: Alexandria
Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Father of geometry, collected geometric theories in a book called Euclid's Elements
  • Collected and presented the various parts of Number theory
  • Created Euclidean geometry and Euclid's lemma on factorization
  • Proposed the Euclidean algorithm, which finds the GCD of 2 numerals
Hero or Heron (10 AD - 70 AD)
Area of Birth: Alexandria

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Created Hero's formula - area of a triangle can be calculated from its side lengths and semi-perimeter
  • Invented a way to calculate square root iteratively
  • First mathematician to observe the imaginary unit
Hippocrates (470 BC - 410 BC)
Hippocrates of Kos (c.460 BC-c.370 BC), wood engraving, published 1882
Area of Birth: Isle of Chios
Contributions to Mathematics:
  • First mathematician to write a geometry textbook, Stoicheia Elements
  • Created the lune of Hippocrates, a key geometrical figure
  • Solved the issues associated with cube roots
  • Invented the reduction method
Nicomedes (280 BC - 210 BC)
Area of Birth: Unknown

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Famous geometer, created the conchoid of Nicomedes
  • Succeeded in finding out how to square a circle
Pappus (290 AD - 350 AD)
Area of Birth: Alexandria

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Proposed the Pappus hexagon theorem, Pappus's centroid theorem
  • Created the Pappus chain, Pappus configuration and Pappus graph
  • Compiled and wrote the Synagogue or Mathematical Collection, 8 books written about findings and facts about Greek geometry
Pythagoras (570 BC - 495 BC)
Closeup of Pythagoras bust sculpture at an outdoor park
Area of Birth: Samos Island
Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Created the Pythagorean theorem - The sum of the squares of 2 sides of a right angled triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse
  • Proposed that the planets and stars moved in accordance to math equations
  • Created the Tetractys figure
Thales (624 or 625 BC - 547 or 546 BC)
Area of Birth: Miletus

Contributions to Mathematics:
  • Used the concept of similar and right triangles to measure pyramids
  • Used the method of seked to measure distances of ships
  • Created Thales's Theorem - right angle exists between any 3 points on a circle, where a line between 2 of those points is the circle's diameter
It's easy to see from the this list of achievements, that we and mathematics in general, have a lot to thank the ancient Greek mathematicians for. Truly the ancient Greek math minds are one of the founding and key contributors to the field of maths and indeed the progress of mankind on the whole.