In the field of mathematics, there’s Hipparchus who was able to deduce and calculate amazing things with remarkable accuracy given his methods. Such as the size of the Earth and stellar distances. Some of the results were less accurate than others, but his methods were remarkably ingenious.
Yes, then there’s Kepler who stands out here, despite his religious devotion and rationalism. At the time, his work on planetary orbits was, excuse the bad pun, revolutionary.
I love bad puns!
Ok so, there’s Euclid who was one of the first to develop rigorous systems of mathematical proofs and identified countless interesting principles of geometry.
And let’s not forget, Gauss and Euler were mathematical prodigies, both contributing more valuable ideas to mathematics than we can recall offhand.
I also wanted to mention some figures notable in the field of computer science. Donald Knuth, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee and Grace Hopper, to name some of my favorites.
Knuth for his important work on the theoretical underpinning of algorithms and so forth.
Turing for helping pioneer what a computer is and its architecture and how it works.
Tim Berners-Lee for helping lay the software underpinnings for the web.
Grace Hopper for her pioneering work on computer languages and compilers.
Despite having studied computer science and done a lot of software development, my list here seems pretty small. The philosophical premises of a lot of people in computer science bugs me. They are often very rationalist and that makes it hard for me to consider them “favorite figures”.
So, the four names I have listed here are people who, as far as I know, are less rationalist then some of the other names I might have chosen and who have made some of the most significant contributions to the field.
When it comes to philosophy, of course, it should not be a surprise that Ayn Rand is our hero.
She developed Objectivism, the first fully consistent and rational system in the history of philosophy. Her work is a major reason this podcast is here in the first place and without her philosophy, I would not have grown as much philosophically as I have.
And then there’s Leonard Peikoff for championing her philosophy and contributing to original ideas and interesting ideas of his own to the field; such as his theory of induction and the DIM Hypothesis.