Famous math majors

Many famous people studied mathematics at one point in their lives before going on to do other things for which they are more famous. It just goes to show that just because you are majoring in math in college doesn't mean that you are destined to become a college professor or an actuary...


Michael Jordan

Basketball player Michael Jordan started out as a math major, but switched majors his junior year.

David Robinson

San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson received a BS in mathematics from the United States Naval Academy..

Virginia Wade

Tennis player Virginia Wade, who won the singles title at Wimbledon in 1977, received a bachelors degree in mathematics and physics from Sussex University..


Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane on "Lois and Clark") was a mathematics and engineering major at DeAnza Junior College.

Danica McKellar

Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years") was a mathematics major at UCLA and graduated summa cum laude.

Art Garfunkel

Singer Art Garfunkel holds an MA in mathematics from Columbia. He started on his PhD, but quit in order to pursue a career in music.


Harry Blackmun

Retired supreme court justice Harry Blackmun received a degree in mathematics from Harvard.

William J. Perry

Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry holds a bachelors and masters degree in mathematics as well as a PhD from Penn State. His thesis advisor at Stanford was the famous mathematician George Polya.

Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino, ex-president of the Philippines, was a mathematics minor at the College of Mt. St. Vincent.

Ralph Abernathy

Civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy was a math major.

David Dinkins

Former mayor of New York City David Dinkins holds a BA in mathematics from Howard University.

Alberto Fujimori

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru, has a master's in math from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Leon Trotsky

Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky began studying mathematics at Odessa in 1897. However, his career in mathematics was cut short by imprisonment and exile in Siberia.


Florence Nightingale

Nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale was not actually a math major (she was privately educated) but was the first person in the English speaking world to apply statistics to public health. She was also the inventor of the pie chart.


Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, was also a logician. He incorporated a lot of his mathematical knowledge into his literature.

Carl Rowan

Nationally syndicated columnist Carl Rowan received a mathematics degree from Oberlin College.


Heloise (Ponce Cruse Evans), who shares her household hints in her column Hints from Heloise, minored in mathematics.

Larry Niven

Science fiction author Larry Niven majored in math.

Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam, author of The Rubaiyat, was a mathematician by trade.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, had a degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Rostov.


J. P. Morgan

Banking, steel, and railroad tycoon James Pierpont Morgan was also an able mathematician.


Much of the information in this article was found in the following sources:
  • "Famous Nonmathematicians," American Mathematical Monthly (November 1993, pp. 845-847)
  • "Famous Math Majors," Math Horizons (November 1994)
  • "The Mathematician who Became Secretary of Defense," Math Horizons (September 1996, pp. 14-21)
  • This page was created by the Rose-Hulman Math Club as an activity for Math Awareness Week 1997.

    Last modified on Wednesday, 18-Sep-2002 23:35:44 CDT

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