The Man who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth

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Fourth Estate, 1998 - Mathematicians - 301 pages
8 Reviews
The biography of a mathematical genius. Paul Erdos was the most prolific pure mathematician in history and, arguably, the strangest too. 'A mathematical genius of the first order, Paul Erdos was totally obsessed with his subject -- he thought and wrote mathematics for nineteen hours a day until he died. He travelled constantly, living out of a plastic bag and had no interest in food, sex, companionship, art -- all that is usually indispensible to a human life. Paul Hoffman, in this marvellous biography, gives us a vivid and strangely moving portrait of this singular creature, one that brings out not only Erdos's genius and his oddness, but his warmth and sense of fun, the joyfulness of his strange life.' Oliver Sacks For six decades Erdos had no job, no hobbies, no wife, no home; he never learnt to cook, do laundry, drive a car and died a virgin. Instead he travelled the world with his mother in tow, arriving at the doorstep of esteemed mathematicians declaring 'My brain is open'. He travelled until his death at 83, racing across four continents to prove as many theorems as possible, fuelled by a diet of espresso and amphetamines. With more than 1,500 papers written or co-written,

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bradleybunch - LibraryThing

Engaging biography of one of the most prolific mathematicians of the 20th Century. While his lifestyle (an intense combination of mathematics, amphetamines, and mooching) could probably not be adopted ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - reenum - LibraryThing

I liked the early part of the book, but Hoffman's style of stringing together a bunch of different anecdotes only loosely connected became grating. I stopped at page 150. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Paul Hoffman is an American intellectual who has devoted much of his professional life to making the work of serious scholars available to the general public. Hoffman has served as editor of Discover magazine and publisher of Encyclopaedia Brittanica. He has also contributed to such television programs as CBS Sunday Morning and PBS' News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Hoffman's books include Archimedes' Revenge and The Man who Loved Only Numbers, a popular biography of the mathematician Paul Erdos.

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