As a young boy in New York City, I was known as a mathematical prodigy due to my success in mathematics competitions.
In graduate school, I tried to follow my interest in number theory by working with Andre Weil...but when that relationship failed, I switched to work with Antoni Zygmund on Fourier Series.
I was known for my ability to solve difficult problems, such as Walter Rudin's Group Algebra problem, a lower-bound portion of the Littlewood conjecture, and the uniqueness aspect of the Cauchy problem in linear partial differential equations.
But, my claim to fame is my resolution of Hilbert's first problem--the continuum hypothesis....by creating the technique of "forcing" and proving the hypothesis' independence as well as that of the Axiom of Choice.
When confronting mathematical problems, my challenging style tended to intimidate both my students and faculty colleagues.
Paul Cohen (1934-2007)