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Paul Erdos (1913 – 1996)


Immensely prolific and famously eccentric mathematician who, with hundreds of collaborators, worked on problems in combinatorics, graph theory, number theory, classical analysis, approximation theory, set theory and probability theory.
Paul Erdos
In a never-ending search for good mathematical problems and fresh mathematical talent, Erdős crisscrossed four continents at a frenzied pace, moving from one university or research center to the next. His modus operandi was to show up on the doorstep of a fellow mathematician, declare, "My brain is open," work with his host for a day or two, until he was bored or his host was run down, and then move on to another home.
Erdős's motto was not "Other cities, other maidens" but "Another roof, another proof." He did mathematics in more than 25 different countries, completing important proofs in remote places and sometimes publishing them in equally obscure journals.
Erdos quotes
This one's from the Book!
Erdos
We'll continue tomorrow — if I live.




Erdos Paul quotes
Television is something the Russians invented to destroy American education.
Erdos Paul
"Want to meet Erdos?" mathematicians would ask. "Just stay here and wait. He'll show up."
Paul Erdos quotes
Probably the greatest mathematician of the twentieth century, Paul Erdős ... was so eccentric that he made Einstein look normal. He was 11 before he ever tied his shoes, 21 before he ever buttered toast, and died without ever boiling an egg.
Erdős lived on the road, traveling from conference to conference, owning nothing but math notebooks and a suitcase or two. His life consisted of math, nothing else.
Paul Erdos
If numbers aren't beautiful, I don't know what is.
Erdos Paul quotes
Suppose aliens invade the earth and threaten to obliterate it in a year's time unless human beings can find the Ramsey number for red five and blue five. We could marshal the world's best minds and fastest computers, and within a year we could probably calculate the value. If the aliens demanded the Ramsey number for red six and blue six, however, we would have no choice but to launch a preemptive attack.
Erdos
Paul Erdős is the consummate problem solver: his hallmark is the succinct and clever argument, often leading to a solution from "the book". He loves areas of mathematics which do not require an excessive amount of technical knowledge but give scope for ingenuity and surprise. The mathematics of Paul Erdős is the mathematics of beauty and insight.
Erdos Paul
Hunagarian mathematician Paul Erdős, although an atheist, spoke of an imaginary book, in which God has written down all the most beautiful mathematical proofs. When Erdős wanted to express particular appreciation of a proof, he would exclaim "This one's from the Book!". This viewpoint expresses the idea that mathematics, as the intrinsically true foundation on which the laws of our universe are built, is a natural candidate for what has been personified as God by different religious mystics.
Paul Erdos
Erdős knows about more problems than anybody else, and he not only knows about various problems and conjectures, but he also knows the tastes of various mathematicians. So if I get a letter from him giving me three of his conjectures and two of his problems, then it's sure that these are exactly the kind of conjectures and problems I'm interested in, and these are exactly the kind of questions I may be able to answer.
Of course, this applies not only to me, but to everybody else. So Erdős has an amazing ability to match problems with people. Which is why so many mathematicians benefit from his presence. Every letter is likely to inspire you to do some work, or every phone call will give you some problems you are interested in.




Paul Erdos quotes
It is not enough to be in the right place at the right time. You should also have an open mind at the right time.
Paul Erdos
I'm not competent to judge. But no doubt he was a great man.
Erdos quotes
The SF created us to enjoy our suffering. ... The sooner we die, the sooner we defy His plans.
Erdos Paul
The SF is the Supreme Fascist, the Number-One Guy Up There, God, who was always tormenting Erdős by hiding his glasses, stealing his Hungarian passport, or, worse yet, keeping to Himself the elegant solutions to all sorts of intriguing mathematical problems.
Erdos Paul quotes
He wrote or co-authored 1,475 academic papers, many of them monumental, and all of them substantial. It wasn't just the quantity of work that was impressive but the quality: "There is an old saying," said Erdős. "Non numerantur, sed ponderantur (They are not counted but weighed).
Paul Erdos
The first sign of senility is that a man forgets his theorems, the second sign is that he forgets to zip up, the third sign is that he forgets to zip down.
Paul Erdos quotes
He loved to play silly tricks to amuse children and to make sly jokes and thumb his nose at authority. But most of all, Erdős loved those who loved numbers, mathematicians.
Paul Erdos
A conjecture both deep and profound
Is whether a circle is round.
In a paper of Erdős
Written in Kurdish
A counterexample is found.
Erdos Paul
As a mathematician Erdös is what in other fields is called a "natural". If a problem can be stated in terms he can understand, though it may belong to a field with which he is not familiar, he is as likely as, or even more likely than, the experts to find a solution.


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