# Mathematical Digest

### Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics

in the Popular Press

"Proof Positive": Review of Two Biographies of Paul Erdos. Reviewed byRobert Matthews. *New Scientist,* 1 August 1998, pages 40-41.

"Planning an Infinite Stay": Review of *The Man Who Loved Only Numbers,*by Paul Hoffman. Reviewed by James Alexander. *New York Times BookReview,* 27 September 1998, page 33.

These articles review two recent biographies of the legendary mathematicianPaul Erdos, who died in 1996: *The Man Who Loved Only Numbers,* by PaulHoffman, and *My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos,*by Bruce Schecter. Erdos was a famously eccentric and prolific mathematicianwho, without a permanent home, traveled constantly to collaborate with hundredsof colleagues all over the world. The *New Scientist* reviewer prefersSchechter's book, which he says is better written, has better structure, andshows better judgment than the Hoffman book. However, he also says that bothbiographies "will provide rich entertainment---plus some insight into thatage-old question: what on Earth do professional mathematicians do all day?"The *New York Times* reviewer appreciates the Hoffman biography for theway it "opens doors on a world and characters that are often invisible."

*--- Allyn Jackson*