Born in Tambov, Russia, on April 25th 1903, Andrei Nikolaevich Kolmogorov was one of the foremost Soviet mathematicians of the Twentieth Century. He was active in many mathematical fields, with interests in both theory and application.
In his early years, Kolmogorov produced a number of intriguing theses on various subjects, including Newton’s laws of motion, and Russian history. He published his first mathematical results of international importance in 1922, at which time he was aged only nineteen, and still an undergraduate at Moscow State University.
Kolmogorov wrote his first paper on probability in 1925 – the year of his graduation – and the subject became one of his most productive areas. Kolmogorov first became a Professor at the age of 28. He went on to hold a succession of chairs in Probability, Logic and other fields.
Over the span of his career, Kolmogorov’s work transformed the science of probability theory. He made many innovative and fundamental contributions to studies of probability, and his influence on the subject has been likened to that of Euclid on geometry. His work on complexity and randomness were of particular importance, and their full value is still being realised and exploited today.
His influence was wide-ranging. In the theory of probability, Kolmogorov’s is still the name that comes first to the minds of the statisticians. He co-founded linear prediction theory – independently of Norbert Wiener – in the years of World War II, of particular importance to engineers. His work on Shannon’s entropy theory developed a vital tool for communications specialists studying the effect of noise on the capacity of a communications channel.
In addition to his research, Kolmogorov was a dedicated educator. In addition to his post at Moscow State University, he spent time in secondary schools promoting the special educational needs of mathematically gifted children.
He was given many international honorary degrees and awards, including being elected a foreign Fellow of the Royal Society in 1964.
Andrei Nikolaevich Kolmogorov married Anna Dmitriyevna Egorov in 1942. They had no children. Kolmogorov died on October 20th, 1987, leaving as his legacy to the world the fruits of his 65 years as a researcher.