Paul Erdös dead at 83
Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös died on Friday, September 20, in
Warsaw, where he was attending the minisemester in combinatorics. He was
83. News of his death reached the mathematical community via an email
message from mathematician Miki Simonovits (of the Hungarian Academy of
Sciences), and then was quickly rebroadcast by email around the world.
Paul Erdös was well known even outside mathematical circles for his
singular dedication to mathematics, which resulted in his living as a
"mathematical pilgrim" for much of his life. He was known as a poser and
solver of problems, but his problems often seemed to lead to deep theories
which were then explored by others. By his trips and by his collaboration
with other mathematicians, Erdös stimulated an enormous amount of
mathematical activity. His contributions to number theory and to
combinatorics were immense.
Erdös was the subject of a very interesting article in
Atlantic magazine in 1987 and of a documentary entitled N is a
Number (available through the MAA). He was one of the giants of
mathematics in the twentieth century.
Erdös had so many
collaborators that he introduced the notion of the Erdös number
of a mathematician. Anyone who has written a joint paper with Erdös has
Erdös number 1. If you have written a paper with someone whose
Erdös number is 1, your Erdös number is 2. In general, your
Erdös number counts the number of collaborations that link you to
Erdös. See the Erdös Number
Project page for more on Erdös Numbers.
Additional Information on the death of Paul Erdös can be found at:
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Last modified: Sat Oct 5 09:35:32 1996