Neuman was a mid-twentieth century American mathematician of Hungarian origin. He was also a prominent physicist, computer scientist and an inventor. He is known for his contributions to multifarious fields. He worked on functional analysis, topology, foundations of mathematics, geometry and other fields related to mathematics.
He is also credited for presenting the concepts of the digital computer and universal constructor. He penned and published over hundred and fifty research papers in his life span. Most of them focused on mathematical solutions and physics. While he was in the hospital he could not publish his last paper but later it appeared in a book form.
Born on December 28, 1903, in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, he was named Neumann János Lajos (John Lewis). He belonged to a noble affluent Jewish family. He was given a Hebrew name as well that was Yonah who was the eldest of three siblings. His father, Neumann Miksa, had a PhD in law and was a successful banker. His mother Kann Margit also came from an influential family who held Kann-Heller offices in Budapest. Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire elevated Miksa to nobility which led to Neumanns acquiring the Margittai appellation.
What Neumann had managed to achieve may seem uncanny for a man to accomplish in his lifetime but it was all accredited to his being a child prodigy. He was known for doing complex mathematical calculations in his head and conversing in Ancient Greek. As the formal education in Hungary did not begin until the age of ten, the Neumann kids was tutored by a governess and they learned several other languages. At the young age of 8, he became familiar with differential and integral calculus. His favourite subject to study was history and 46 volumes of Allgemeine Geschichte in Einzeldarstellungen by Wilhelm Oncken which fulfilled his love of history.
Neumann was enrolled at one of the best schools for elites in Budapest, the Lutheran Fasori Evangelikus Gimnázium. The school had produced a number of notable figures in the history including Leó Szilárd, Theodore von Kármán, Paul Erdős and more. Upon his father’s wishes he attended age appropriate classes regardless of his IQ. However, his father hired a private tutor to further his studies and by the age of 15 he mastered the advanced calculus.
Since being a mathematician was not as lucrative in Hungary at that time, John’ father decided that he may opt for chemical engineering. He took some courses at the University of Berlin and was then accepted at the prestigious ETH Zurich while working on a doctorate of mathematics at Pázmány Péter University. Afterwards, he studied mathematics at the University of Göttingen after receiving a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Upon completion of his studies he lectured at the University of Berlin becoming the youngest person ever to be selected as a privatdozent in 1928. Furthermore, he even managed to publish twelve major research papers at the age of 25 and 32 more papers in the next two years. John had an astonishing memory recall and memorizing speed.
In 1930, he tied the knot with an economics major, Mariette Kövesi and got divorced seven years later and married Klara Dan the next year. He converted to Catholicism and so did the rest of his family after his father died. He received a lifetime professorship from the Institute for Advanced Study and remained a mathematics professor until his death.