The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

In 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Memphis, TN to attend the Paul Erdös Memorial Lecture Series. Earlier this week, I finally got around to reading Paul Hoffman’s biography of Erdös entitled The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth.

Erdös is well known for his eccentric personality and his enormous list of publications. Hoffman’s book takes accounts from many of Erdös’ long list of collaborators. Some of the stories of Erdös’ life in the book are relayed by Ron Graham, Fan Chung Graham, Ralph Faudree, Béla Bollobás, Joel Spencer, Andrew Vázsonyi, etc. Each of these stories give an intriguing insight into Erdös’ life.

Although I did not start laughing hysterically until page 6 or so, the first five pages were worth the wait. I highly recommend this book to everyone especially mathematicians. It gives great insights into the lives of mathematicians (if that is at all possible).

Sometimes I caught myself thinking, “I wonder what would Erdös say to me if he saw me reading this.” Would he tell me I have died and is praying to the “SF” for my return? Or in his deep thoughts about mathematics, would he not even notice?

It truly is a delightful read. Let me know what you think about the book! “My brain is open!”

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