Best remembered as a child mathematical prodigy, this New York man began attending Harvard University when he was just eleven years old. After teaching briefly at Rice University and being arrested for his participation in a 1919 socialist demonstration, he largely sank into obscurity.
When he was eight years old, he created a Greek and Latin-based language that he called "Vendergood" and was fluent in eight other languages, including French, Hebrew, Turkish, and Russian.
In his later life, he became obsessed with streetcars and even coined a term, "peridromophile," to describe himself and others who were highly interested in public transportation systems.
He and his sister were born in New York City to a family of Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants; their father was a prominent psychiatrist, and their mother was a physician. He died in his forties from a cerebral hemorrhage, the same medical event that had killed his father.
He and composer Roger Sessions entered Harvard in the same year, both as part of a special university program that allowed child prodigies to begin their university studies early.