Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years", his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said.
His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.
"This complete set of laws can give us the answers to questions like how did the universe begin", he said. We will miss him forever.
The British physicist was born in Oxford in 1942.
And while he was well-known for his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) diagnosis that left him wheelchair bound for decades, the Cambridge professor may have used his condition to his advantage where he could. But he continued his theoretical work and was outspoken on many things over much of his life.
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"Hawking shot to global fame after the 1988 publication of "A Brief History of Time", one of the most complex books ever to achieve mass appeal, which stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for no fewer than 237 weeks.
Others to pay tribute include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
Hawking's genius brought him global fame and he become known as a witty communicator dedicated to bringing science to a wider audience.
There have been reactions too from the world of Astronomy in Australia.
Stephen Hawking was a prolific author with a knack for making books on challenging scientific topics engaging to a wide spectrum of readers. The professor was physically located at Cambridge University in England.
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He never received a Nobel Prize, but his theories about the nature of black holes and spacetime contributed to Nobel-winning discoveries such as the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO. He lived more than another half a century, not only as one of the most powerful minds of a generation, but one of the most recognisable scientific figures of the era.
Beyond scientific debate Hawking also weighed into politics, describing Donald Trump as "a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator" ahead of his election as USA president.
Through it all, of course, his illness made his achievements near-superhuman. "I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth", he said previous year.
More recently he said artificial intelligence (AI) could contribute to the eradication of disease and poverty, while warning of its potential dangers.
- "The Grand Design": Hawking said this 2010 book co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow was meant to address important unanswered questions such as why there is a universe and whether the universe needed a creator and designer.
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