The Man Who Loved Only Numbers
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The Man Who Loved Only Numbers : The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

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Description

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, a daily routine of 19 hours of mathematics a day, seven days a week, Paul Erdos was one of the most extraordinary thinkers of our times.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 24mm | 240.41g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • (1 x 16pp b/w)
  • 1857028295
  • 9781857028294
  • 115,400

Review quote

"Hoffman's playful, plainspoken and often hilarious biography of a monkish, impish, generous genius is purest pleasure." Mail on Sunday "Paul Hoffman's wittily articulated life of the mathematical genius Paul Erdos opens a door to a sunlit upland of pure logic, populated by bungee-bouncing, bearded maniacs and absurdly intelligent men who never learnt to tie their own shoelaces...Anyone with an interest in the science of numbers should read this." Observer "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers is one of the most accessible and engaging introductions to the world of pure mathematics you are ever likely to come across." Graham Farmelo, Sunday Telegraph "A wonderful, playful, insightful life of this century's most unusual mathematician." Ian Stewart, Independent

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About Paul Hoffman

Paul Hoffman is publisher of Encyclopaedia Brittanica and the science correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on US TV.

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Review Text

It had to happen. After the success of Fermat's Last Theorem, another mathematical biography - but one completely different from the Fermat books, describing the life and work (mainly work, as you will see) of the 20th-century mathematician Paul Erdoes, who had 'no hobbies, no wife, no home; he never learned to cook, do laundry, drive a car and died a virgin'. Weird, maybe; but also an undoubted genius whose story is used by author Hoffman (who knew Erdoes personally) as a peg on which to hang tales of many other mathematicians, from Archimedes to Stanislaw Ulam, the father of the hydrogen bomb. Winner of the 1999 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Science. (Kirkus UK)

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