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Paul Erdős Biography [1, 2, 3]
“My brain is open” – Paul Erdős
Paul Erdős was born on March 26, 1913 in Budapest, Hungary to a Jewish family whose name was originally Engländer. Though the times of antisemitism was behind them, the Hapsburgs did not want to be reminded of their Jewish neighbors. Thus, Paul’s father picked a common Hungarian name that means “from the woods”. It’s approximate pronunciation is air-dish. His parents Lajos and Anna had two daughters who died just days before Paul was born. This would make his mother extremely protective of Paul. He would get his introduction to mathematics from his parents who were both mathematics teachers; a profession that was held in high regard in Hungary which boasted an outstanding educational system.
It turned out that Paul was a childhood prodigy who had an affinity for numbers. He would learn to count when his mother left for teaching. One day when Paul was just four years old a visitor, who after Paul had calculated the number of seconds he had lived, decided to give Paul a tricky question. He asked, “What is 150 minus 200?” Paul went quiet for a moment as his mind went of into unknown territory. Then he smiled and yelled excitedly, “150 below zero!” This was no small feat. He just independently discovered negative numbers! He would later down play his calculating abilities, but he would always remark with pride “his discovery” at the age of four.
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UCLA mathematicians devise an algorithm based on data from the Los Angeles Police Department for the Hollenbeck area east of downtown. Read the article here.
A 63 year old former security guard appears to have solved an esoteric mystery that has baffled the top minds in an arcane field of mathematics for almost four decades…sounds like goodwill hunting? Hmm not exactly, he is a mathematician. I read this years ago and decided to read his proof again. Good story nonetheless.