Michigan State University

Famous Mathematicians: Math Biography Resources

Introduction

Information on famous mathematicians and their contributions to mathematics can be found both in the Mathematics Library, located in D101 Wells Hall, and in the Main Library. Some of the better sources in the Mathematics Library have been placed on Math Library Reference in order to make them available to all. Check the catalog for the location. The Biographical Dictionary of Mathematicians, located in Math Library Reference (QA 28 .B534 1991), may be especially useful both for its extensive coverage of selected mathematicians and for the topical essays on mathematics in early civilizations, e.g. Mesopotamia. Keep in mind that the spelling or names of early mathematicians may vary. For example, the Arab mathematician, Al-Khowarizmi, can also be found under Al-Khwarizmi, or Al-jabr, or Mohammed; his name may be indexed under A, K, or M. Leonardo of Pisa is also known as Fibonacci.

Books

To locate books on famous mathematicians, use the catalog. You can start with a keyword or subject search of the mathematician's name.

Examples:

Keyword: boole george
Subject (LC Subject): boole george

A broader subject search of the catalog is useful to find books covering many mathematicians or books dealing with the history of mathematics. The following examples illustrate some of the subject headings that can be used.

Examples:

Mathematicians--biography
Women--mathematicians--biography
Mathematics--history
Mathematics--greek
Mathematics--hindu

If you wish to browse the bookshelves, relevant information will be found under the following call numbers:

QA21: Mathematics general history
QA22: Mathematics ancient history
QA23: Mathematics medieval history
QA24: Mathematics history, 16th - 18th centuries
QA26: Mathematics history, 19th - 20th centuries
QA28: Mathematics history by region or country
QA27.5: Women in mathematics
QA28: Mathematics collective biographies
QA29: Mathematics individual biographies

Online Encyclopedias

Journals and Databases

Some general databases can be used to find articles on mathematicians. Search in ArticleFirst, Biography Index, or ProQuest Research Library. These databases work best if you have a particular mathematician in mind.

The specialized database, MathSciNet, can also be used. MathSciNet will provide more comprehensive results if the word "AND" is used between the mathematician's last and first name in the "anywhere" field (example: Richard AND Dedekind). Most of the articles in MathSciNet are at a research level, but useful articles on famous mathematicans can be found there. If you are doing a very general search, this may be the place to start (Example: "mathematicians in geometry" might be searched by using the classification code 51-03--Geometry Historical). Some of the journals that provide biographical information on mathematicians and their contributions to mathematics are:

Websites

 
 

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