(March 28, 1928 – November 13, 2014)

Apart from revolutionizing Functional Analysis, Topology and Number Theory, Grothendieck’s exploits on Algebraic Geometry are prettier than Mona Lisa. In the process, he invented the alluring Theory of Schemes. If you think that Albert Einstein was the most brilliant mind of 20th century, then, you will benefit from poking a glance at the creations of Alexander Grothendieck, Emmy Noether, David Hilbert and Henri Poincaré. Your opinion will make an about-turn by the time you are halfway through. The fact that Grothendieck abandoned maths in his prime and dejectedly burned thousands of pages of his unpublished manuscripts, made it hard for me to find extra evidence which could have propelled him higher on this list. Still, enough proofs remain to consolidate his place in the eternal annals of mathematicians. He won every top accolade that existed in mathematics. (There is no Nobel Prize for maths, but he won the Fields Medal, which is a comparative honor). Unfortunately, his protests against the Vietnam War (alongside anti-military disputes) forced him to abandon his professorial chair in France and reject the Crafoord Prize: together with its US$250,000.00 reward. The turbulent genius thus went into reclusion (in the Pyrenees) from 1988 until his death in 2014: despite being the greatest living mathematician during that period.

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