Mathematician:Paul Erdős

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Mathematician

Hungarian mathematician known for the vast quantity of work he did (approximately 1500 papers).

Spent his entire life travelling the world looking for interesting mathematical problems to solve.

Perhaps most famous for his widespread collaborations (about 500 collaborators), from which the concept of the Erdős Number emerged.

Found an elementary proof of the Prime Number Theorem at the same time as Atle Selberg. Exactly what happened in 1948 has been discussed a great deal in the years following. See Erdős-Selberg dispute for a fairly unbiased account.

Because of his widespread influence, there are many stories in circulation about Erdős, not all of which are completely true, so don't believe everything you read about him (even this!) -- its source may be flawed.


Nationality

Hungarian


History

  • Born: 26 March 1913, Budapest, Hungary
  • Died: September 20, 1996, Warsaw, Poland


Theorems and Inventions

Results named for Paul Erdős can be found here.

Definitions of concepts named for Paul Erdős can be found here.


Publications

About 1500 papers, including:

  • 1949: On a new method in elementary number theory which leads to an elementary proof of the prime number theorem
  • 1950: Az $1 / x_1 + 1 / x_2 + \cdots + 1/x_n = a / b$ egyenlet egész számú megoldásairól (On a Diophantine Equation) (Mat. Lapok Vol. 1


Notable Quotes

If you subtract $250$ from $100$, you get $150$ below zero.
-- at the age of $4$ to his mother


A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.


Also known as

In Hungarian, Paul Erdős is Erdős Pál.

His surname can often be seen without its diacritic: Erdos.


Sources