Foregoers

Paul Erdős

(b. 3/26/1913, Budapest, d. 9/20/1996 Warsaw)

Erdős, do this his overly protective mother, was mostly home educated until his late teenage years.  His genius was discovered at a very early age, when at 3 after having been introduced to integers and subtraction, he derived negative numbers. Since his father introduced him to prime numbers at the age of 10, Erdős had been intrigued by number theory. In 1931, at the age of 18, Paul was able to come up with a new proof for a nearly 100 year old conjecture. He wrote his Ph. D. dissertation on this subject as a second year undergraduate at the University of Budapest. Later due to the concerns about the war Erdős moved first to England than to the US while accelerating his scientific productivity. He not only contributed to virtually every subfield of discrete mathematics and probability theory in his over 1500 publications, but opened up several new branches the have his name imprinted in their literature. From the mid 50s the Erdős number became a measure of importance among mathematicians, which measured collaborations of an individual with Erdős. According to Erdős, to “die” meant to quit doing mathematics, to “leave” meant physical death. Erdős never “died”, he “left” at the age of 83 while attending a combinatorics meeting in Warsaw.

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