John von Neumann was a Hungarian-born Jewish American mathematician and polymath. He made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including mathematics, physics, economics, computer science, and statistics.
The mathematician Jean Dieudonné called von Neumann "the last of the great mathematicians", while Peter Lax described him as possessing the "most scintillating intellect of this century", and Hans Bethe stated "I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann's does not indicate a species superior to that of man". He was born in Budapest around the same time as Theodore von Kármán, George de Hevesy, Leó Szilárd, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller, and Paul Erd?s.
Von Neumann was a pioneer of the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics, in the development of functional analysis, a principal member of the Manhattan Project and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a key figure in the development of game theory and the concepts of cellular automata, the universal constructor, and the digital computer. Von Neumann's mathematical analysis of the structure of self-replication preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA. In a short list of facts about his life he submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, he stated "The part of my work I consider most essential is that on quantum mechanics, which developed in Göttingen in 1926, and subsequently in Berlin in 1927–1929. Also, my work on various forms of operator theory, Berlin 1930 and Princeton 1935–1939; on the ergodic theorem, Princeton, 1931–1932." Along with Teller and Stanislaw Ulam, von Neumann worked out key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb.