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Paul Erdös

Erdös, Paul (ĕrˈdös) [key], 1913–96, Hungarian mathematician, b. Budapest. A child prodigy, he was mostly home-schooled by his parents—both teachers of mathematics—until he entered the Univ. of Budapest in 1930. He graduated in 1934, simultaneously receiving his doctorate. After teaching in Europe, he joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where he stayed for ten years. The remainder of his life was filled with positions at a number of schools, among them the Univ. of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Stanford, and making conference presentations. Although he was interested in history, medicine, and politics, his life was dedicated to mathematics. Erdös wrote about 1,500 papers, about five times as many as other prolific mathematicians, and had about 500 collaborators. He wrote fundamental papers on real analysis, geometry, topology, probability theory, complex analysis, approximation theory, and set theory, but he will be remembered best for his contributions to number theory and combinatorics, an area of mathematics fundamental to computer science.

See A. Baker et al., A Tribute to Paul Erdös (1991); A. Thomason, Combinatorics, Geometry, and Probability (1997); K. Alladi et al., Analytic and Elementary Number Theory (1998); B. Schechter, My Brain Is Open (1998); P. Hoffman, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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