Annal: 1999 Aventis Prize for General Science Book

Results of the Aventis Prize in the year 1999.

Book:The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

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

Paul Hoffman

Paul Erdos, the most prolific and eccentric mathematician of our time, forsook all creature comforts—including a home—to pursue his lifelong study of numbers. He was a man who possessed unimaginable powers of thought yet was unable to manage some of the simplest daily tasks. For more than six decades, Erdos lived out of two tattered suitcases, crisscrossing four continents at a frenzied pace, chasing mathematical problems and fresh talent. Erdos saw mathematics as a search for lasting beauty and ultimate truth. It was a search Erdos never abandoned, even as his life was torn asunder by some of the major political dramas of our time.

In this biography, Hoffman uses Erdos’s life and work to introduce readers to a cast of remarkable geniuses, from Archimedes to Stanislaw Ulam, one of the chief minds behind the Los Alamos nuclear project. He draws on years of interviews with Ronald…[more]

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