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The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

Paul Hoffman

Perhaps my favourite biography of a mathematician

Paul Erdös was the most prolific mathematician of the twentieth century. He slept for only three hours a night, he worked for nineteen hours each day, and he published 1500 papers, all thanks to a constant diet of coffee and amphetamines. Erdös would often say, “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.”

Two years after the death of Erdös, Paul Hoffman has written a biography which conveys the wonder of mathematics by focusing on one of its most devoted practitioners, “a mathematical monk, who renounced physical pleasure and material possessions for an ascetic, contemplative life.”