Physicist and science writer Bruce Schechter's biography of legendary Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös is an engaging portrait, warm and intimate, bringing this strange, happy man to life. Schechter's focus is tighter and more traditionally biographical than Paul Hoffman's in The Man Who Loved Only Numbers
. Here we get to see Erdös's brief childhood transform quickly into a carefree adolescence of solving difficult maths problems with his circle of brilliant friends--uniquely encouraged by a country that valued the contributions of mathematics in a way that has never been equalled. Fleeing the Holocaust, Erdös never settled down, instead travelling from place to place, showing up on the doorsteps of other mathematicians with his few possessions and an open mind. During his career, Erdös published more papers than any other mathematician in history. Most of the papers were collaborations:
For Erdös, the mathematics that consumed most of his waking hours was not a solitary pursuit but a social activity. One of the great mathematical discoveries of the twentieth century was the simple equation that two heads are better than one.... That radical transformation of how mathematics is created is the result of many factors, not the least of which was the infectious example set by Erdös.
Schechter spoke with many of Erdös's collaborators to complete this biography, which reveals the odd mathematician as charming, opinionated and completely dependent upon the kindness of others. Schechter not only tells his fascinating story, but introduces some intriguing mathematics problems (with easy-to-understand explanations) to show readers why
Erdös loved the elegance of numbers more than anything else in the world. --Therese Littleton
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.