Erdös, Paul

Erdös, Paul

(ĕr`dös), 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 theorynumber theory,
branch of mathematics concerned with the properties of the integers (the numbers 0, 1, −1, 2, −2, 3, −3, …). An important area in number theory is the analysis of prime numbers.
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 and combinatoricscombinatorics
or combinatorial analysis
, sometimes called the science of counting, the branch of mathematics concerned with the selection, arrangement, and operation of elements within sets.
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, an area of mathematics fundamental to computer science.

Bibliography

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).

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