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Erdös, Paul

prime papers mathematician budapest

[air-dosh] (1913–96) Hungarian mathematician: a prolific and talented eccentric.

Erdös was a pure mathematician in both senses of the phrase. His interest was number theory, and he thought of nothing else. His brilliance was such that his 1500 papers represent the greatest contribution to this area during the last century (only , in other fields, has produced more papers). He was one of three children born in Budapest to two Jewish mathematics teachers. His two sisters were considered even brighter, but both died young of scarlet fever. After studying at Budapest and Manchester, and unable to return home, he moved to the USA in 1939. Before he was 20 he showed that between any two numbers N and 2N, there lies at least one prime number. His greatest achievement was in 1949, when with Atle Selberg he gave the first elegant and ‘elementary’ proof of the Prime Number Theorem, which describes their pattern of distribution. (Specifically, this 18th-c theorem shows that the approximate number of primes less than X is X/log e X.) In the McCarthy era Erdös was banned from the US for being reluctant to denigrate Marx. Absent-minded and over-generous with money, he had no wife, family or permanent residence, and stayed with friends or at conferences, living on lecture fees, prizes and the hospitality of collaborators (he had hundreds of coauthors, the largest number in mathematical history). His mother’s death in 1971 caused him to work longer hours, sustained by coffee and benzedrine. He died at a conference in Warsaw, still working.

Erdogan, Tayyip (1954–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, RELIGION IS A SACRED AND COLLECTIVE VALUE [next] [back] Eratosthenes (of Cyrene)

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