Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Paul Erdos, 83, a Wayfarer at Math's Pinnacle, is Dead," by Gina Kolata.New York Times, 24 September 1996, page A1.

"Paul Erdos, an Eccentric Titan of Mathematical Theory, Dies," by RichardPearson. Washington Post, 24 September 1996, page M1.

"Paul Erdos, Sweet Genius," by Charles Krauthammer. Washington Post,27 September 1996, page A25.

Paul Erdos died on September 20, 1996 while attending a mathematics conferencein Warsaw. These articles---the first two are obituaries, the third is aneditorial--- speak of Erdos's prolific work in mathematics, his manycollaborators, and his nomadic way of living. Erdos was the author of morethan 1500 papers in mathematics, and more will be published posthumously, as aresult of the many collaborations he was pursuing at the time of his death. Anexpert in number theory and graph theory, Erdos was, according to onemathematician quoted in theTimes obituary, ``the prince of problem solvers and the absolutemonarch of problem posers.'' He had little money and few possessions, and whathe did have he gave away. ``From Bobby Fischer to Howard Hughes, obsession andmisanthropy seem to go together,'' writes Krauthammer. ``Not so Erdos. He wasgentle, open and generous with others.''

-Allyn Jackson