A perfect example would be Srinivasa Ramanujan

It is known that the conventional community throughout history have been close-minded towards great men of science and mathematics.(eg. Galileo)

Srinivasa Ramanujan being one of them. Einstein is another one.

A lot of history's math and science problems were solved in what would have been considered heresy.

Wikipedia's Biography

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    $\begingroup$ Ramanujan was not ignored. He was invited to England, where he did some outstanding work with Hardy. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Mar 29 at 1:45
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    $\begingroup$ This is way too broad for a reasonable answer. Ignored when and by whom? For how long? They were, obviously, not ignored forever, if we now remember their names as the "top". There are innumerable examples of mathematicians who were "ahead of their time" in some or all of their work, e.g. Madhava, Leibniz, Galois, Bolzano, even Euler (non-standard analysis, graph theory) and Poincare (algebraic topology). $\endgroup$ – Conifold Mar 29 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ Einstein was ignored? In what alternate universe (which he may or may not have agreed could exist)? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 29 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ Grassmann comes to mind. $\endgroup$ – Michael Bächtold Mar 30 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ Bernhard Bolzano did not get very far during his life. But I think this was not because his ideas were un-conventional. His ideas were ignored because they were unknown. And that was partly because he got on the bad side of his government (the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and could not publish. $\endgroup$ – Gerald Edgar Mar 30 at 12:50

Georg Cantor was a German mathematician who created set theory that has become a fundamental theory in mathematics. However, his original work on infinity and ordinal number was considered unconventional or even unorthodox, which was under heavy attacks from some of the famous contemporary mathematicians for a long time.

Another example is Charles Sanders Pierce, an American philosopher and logician who made important contributions to logic, relation theory, pragmatism, semiotics and so on. But his work was largely ignored in his lifetime and he could not even find an academic position. Only since 1920s, his original work has been rediscovered and he is recognized as one of the most original and versatile of American philosophers and America's greatest logicians.


Hermann Cäsar Hannibal Schubert invented what is called "Schubert calculus" (publ. in 1879). His highly original method was not sufficiently justified. One of the Hilbert problems (1900) was to justify Schubert Calculus. This was achieved in principle in the 1920s and the interest to the Schubert Calculus declined, and it was never very strong before that.

It experienced a strong revival in the 1970s when mathematicians started to check and re-compute Schubert's results sometimes using computers. Nowadays it is a vigorously developing area of mathematics with many applications inside and outside mathematics. Schubert's book has been recently reprinted. Schubert himself was not sufficiently recognized in his lifetime and worked as a high school (gymnasium) teacher.

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    $\begingroup$ OK, but what is unconventional, and what evidence is there that it was ignored on those grounds, rather than simply not being complete, or not having a known application? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 29 at 12:57

Not necessarily ignored, but A. Robinson's non standard analysis wasn't much well-received either, most probably because he relied on metamathematical machinery to set it up

  • $\begingroup$ Non standard analysis is not recognized as today, and probably will not forever. $\endgroup$ – Math Wizard Apr 18 at 17:33

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