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Skimming a book of biographies of mathematicians I see few originators but many contributors:

“She advanced the study of…”

“He made many invaluable contributions…”

“He shaped the teaching of mathematics…”

“She vitally affected the development of the field…”

“He helped to introduce the method…”

“He founded two academies…”

“She enhanced the methods…”

“By combining field X and Y, he opened a new world of possibilities…”

“She wrote popular texts compiling and explaining the knowledge of her day…”

Contribution, experimentation, recombination, and persistence are the foundations of progress, leading – very occasionally – to dramatic breakthroughs, invention, and perhaps recognition.

Contribution shoulders the load.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...