The Erdös Number Project

Mathematics and Science Center, Room 346
146 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)

Information about Paul Erdös (1913–1996)

This page attempts to provide references and/or links to all available information about Paul Erdös. If you know of any other such information, please let us know. In particular, if you’d like to write some personal reminiscences about Paul (or anything else you feel would be appropriate) and want your thoughts to be available on the Web, please send us either the URL (preferred) or an electronic copy of what you’d like posted (with an assurance that to post it would not violate any copyrights). If you find any of our links no longer valid, we’d appreciate knowing that.

Items and links of general interest

Books about Paul Erdös and his work

  • The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman (Hyperion, 1998). The book can be ordered from There have been several reviews of this book (and the one mentioned next); here is one in the AMS Notices by Paul Halmos. Here is a review from The New York Times.
  • My Brain Is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdös by Bruce Schechter (1998). The book can be ordered from
  • The Mathematics of Paul Erdös, second edition, comes in volumes one and two, edited by Ronald Graham and Jaroslav Nesetril.
  • Combinatorics, Paul Erdös is Eighty, in two volumes, edited by D. Miklós, V. T. Sós and T. Szönyi, published by the János Bolyai Mathematical Society, Budapest (1993 and 1996). This work contains papers by many prominent authors—with information both about Paul Erdös and about his mathematics. Volume 2 contains an excellent 88-page biographical article by László Babai entitled “In and Out of Hungary: Paul Erdös, His Friends, and Times”; an abridged version is available on the author’s website. This volume also contains Erdös’s own paper entitled “On some of my favourite theorems”.
  • Erdös on Graphs: His Legacy of Unsolved Problems by Fan Chung and Ron Graham. This book was published in January 1998 by A K Peters, Ltd., ISBN 1-56881-079-2.
  • Proofs From The Book by Martin Aigner and Günther M. Ziegler (Springer, fourth edition, 2009).
  • The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman (Roaring Brook Press, 2013). This delightful book is for children ages 6 and up.

Films (and items in other media) about Paul Erdös

  • N is a Number, a wonderful documentary film by George Paul Csicsery, which can be ordered from
  • National Public Radio’s 1998 discussion of strange scientists (their term), including Paul Hoffman talking about Paul Erdös. There is also a related NPR show, on Math and the Media. One can also view a lecture given by Paul Hoffman in 2000 entitled “The Man Who Loved Only Numbers”, describing the life and work of Paul Erdös.
  • zbMATH published a CD-ROM about Erdös entitled Paul Erdös in Zentralblatt MATH: Reviews of His Papers and Articles about His Life, on the occasion of the 1998 International Congress of Mathematicicans in Berlin. Contents: Introduction by B. Wegner, Pictures of Erdös, Papers about Erdös’s life and work, Articles and books of and about Erdös reviewed in Zentrallblatt MATH 1931-1998, Bibliography compiled by J. Grossman, References to Documents in the World Wide Web.

Miscellaneous items

  • There is a pub on a little street behind Eotvos University in Budapest that was renamed the Erdös Cafe. It is right next to the math and physics departments. At last report it was padlocked because of unstable conditions in the neighborhood, as shown in this photo.
  • The subject of this website is not the only famous Paul Erdös. There is another Paul Erdös listed in Mathematical Reviews, a physicist. There is also the Paul Erdös who was a long-time market research executive and an authority on mail surveys. He died on July 2, 2000 in Manhattan at the age of 86. According to an obituary in The New York Times, he and Arthur Morgan founded the market research firm Erdos & Morgan in 1947, which specialized in mail surveys.
  • John Kiltinen has written a song about Paul Erdös.  The tune is based on a Finnish song, which one can see performed on YouTube.
  • Here is a letter written by Paul Erdös to Arnold Ross at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana) in 1954. Paul was in Amsterdam for the International Congress of Mathematicians, and he was having difficulty getting a re-entry visa to the United States.

Memorials, reminiscences, and other items related to Erdös’s death on September 20, 1996

The following message from Miklós Simonovits was posted on the Internet on September 21, 1996:

Paul Erdös died Friday afternoon (20 September 1996) in Warsaw. Early morning he felt some health problems, in a hotel in Warsaw. So he was carried into a hospital, where he died in the afternoon. He was 83.

As far as I know, he had a heart attack, rather serious, very early in the morning, in this Warsaw hotel, where he stayed while visiting the Minisemester for Combinatorics (for two weeks), gave two lectures. Vera Sós and András Sárközy are leaving Budapest for Warsaw right now, Saturday morning, and Paul’s original plans were to fly from Warsaw to Vilnius (for the Kubilius Conference) with Vera and András together, on Sunday.

The doctor informed us that he had two heart attacks and the second one killed him. (Perhaps even the first one was serious enough to prevent him from communicating to his surrounding. This may explain e.g. that he could not reach the mathematicians. We learned about his heart attacks only after his death.)

This page was last updated on August 8, 2020.