In psychology research literature, the term child prodigy is defined as person under the age of ten who produces meaningful output in some domain to the level of an adult expert performer. Child prodigies are rare, and in some domains, there are no child prodigies at all. Prodigiousness in childhood does not always predict adult eminence. The persons listed here have come to the haphazard attention of history or current news and probably do not represent the typical experience of a child prodigy.
Mathematics and Science
- Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz (1606–1682) was a Spanish scholastic philosopher, ecclesiastic, mathematician, and writer. He was a precocious child, early delving into serious problems in mathematics and even publishing astronomical tables in his tenth year.
- Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher who wrote a treatise on vibrating bodies at the age of nine; he wrote his first proof, on a wall with a piece of coal, at the age of 11 years, and a theorem by the age of 16 years. He is famous for Pascal’s theorem and many other contributions in mathematics, philosophy, and physics.
Note: Several mathematicians were mental calculators when they were still children. Mental calculation is not to be confused with mathematics. This section is for child prodigies largely or primarily known for calculating skills.
- Zerah Colburn (1804–1839) had a major display of his ability at age eight.
- Ettore Majorana (1906–1938) could multiply two 3 digit numbers in his head in seconds at the age of 4.
- John von Neumann (1903–1957) A “mental calculator” by the age of six years, who could tell jokes in classical Greek.
- Priyanshi Somani (born 1998) won 1st place in the 2010 Mental Calculation World Cup at age 11.
- Jerry Newport (born 1948), autistic calculating savant at age seven, already using calculus to compute third and higher roots, title holder of “Most Versatile Calculator”, won in 2010. Self-discovered much number theory in elementary school—perfect numbers, Fibonacci, etc.
- Jean-François Champollion knew several dead languages by the time he was 10 years old and read an important paper at the Grenoble Academy at the age of 16 years.