Skip to Main Content
The author starts with a short chronological life history of John von Neumann (1903-1957), followed by a few words on his personal characteristics. The bulk of the biography is an account of von Neumann's diverse achievements, in which each contribution is described, analyzed, and its ultimate importance and influence explained. The breadth of von Neumann's interests and accomplishments was such that this paper reviews "a large part of the whole scientific development" of the three decades preceding his death. The biography is remarkable for the grace, skill, and comprehensiveness with which the author shows von Neumann's accomplishments and puts them into the appropriate scientific and historical context. The author is in a unique position to do this: he writes extremely well, he has the ability to make difficult things un derstandable, and he knew von Neumann for 25 years. He is also a leading mathematician and has the background and ability to comment on von Neumann's work.
Note: Reprinted from S. Ulam, "John von Neumann," Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, Volume 64, Issue 3, Part 2, pages 1-49, by permission of the American Mathematical Society. (c) 1958 by the American Mathematical Society.