Author Topic: Paul Erdos humor  (Read 18940 times)


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Paul Erdos humor
« on: 二月 25, 2005, 04:42:41 pm »
Paul Erdos, currently most prolific mathematician in history, is always
making jokes about how old he is. (He says, for example, that he is two and
a half billion years old, because in his youth the age of the Earth was
known to be two billion years and now it is known to be 4.5 billion years.)

He observed one day that the audiences at his talks had been getting larger
and larger, to the point where they filled halls so big that his old and
feeble voice could not be heard. Erdos speculated as to the cause of this.

"I think," he said, "it must be that everyone wants to be able to say 'I
remember Erdos; why, I even attended his last lecture!'"


Paul Erdos (Hungarian mathematician, 1913-1996) had his own particular

* Supreme Fascist = God (Also abbreviated as SF)
  (person who hides Erdös's socks, glasses, Hungarian passport and kept the
  best  equations to himself)
* straight from the book = beautiful, elegant proof
                           (from the book of the SF)
* boss            = woman
* slave           = man
* captured        = married
* liberated       = divorced
* recaptured      = remarried
* epsilon         = child (for the mathematical symbol)
                  = a little
* to preach       = to give a math lecture
* to exist        = to do math
* to die          = to stop doing math
* trivial being   = Someone who does not do math
* to leave        = to die
* to arrive       = to be born
* Joe             = USSR (for Joseph Stalin)
* Sam             = USA (for Uncle Sam)
* Sam and Joe show= International news
* Ned             = Australia (for Ned Kelly, a famous Australian
                    bandit from the 19th century)
* János           = Hungary (for János Kádár, ruler of Hungary 1956-1988)
* On the long wavelength = communist (for red)
* On the short wavelength = fascist (opposite of red)
* noise          = music
* poison         = alcohol
* my brain is open = I am ready to do mathematics
* what was that when it was alive? = what kind of  meat is that?


Paul Erdos (Hungarian mathematician, 1913-1996) had the habbit of phoning
fellow mathematicians over the whole world, no matter what time it was.  He
remembered the number of every mathematician, but did not know anybody's
first name.  The only person he called by his Christian name was Tom
Trotter, whom he called Bill.


On one occasion, Erdos met a mathematician and asked him where he was
from. "Vancouver," the mathematician replied. "Oh, then you must know my
good friend Elliot Mendelson," Erdös said.

The reply was "I AM your good friend Elliot Mendelson."


"There was a storm with thunder and lightening.  Little Paul Erdos was in
bed, frightened and fretting and his mother couldn't calm him.  Then, as
mothers seem to instinctively do, she found the right words.  "It's all
right dear", she said, stroking his shiny head, "there's always a prime
between n and 2n".

After that, little Paul drifted off into a blissful sleep."


Ernst Eduard Kummer (1810-1893), a German algebraist, was rather poor at
arithmetic. Whenever he had occasion to do simple arithmetic in class, he
would get his students to help him. Once he had to find 7 x 9.  "Seven
times nine," he began, "Seven times nine is er -- ah --- ah -- seven times
nine is. . . ."  "Sixty-one," a student suggested. Kummer wrote 61 on the
board.  "Sir," said another student, "it should be sixty-nine."  "Come,
come, gentlemen, it can't be both," Kummer exclaimed. "It must be one or
the other."

Paul Erdos had another version of this story, how Kummer calculated 7 x 9:
Kummer said to himself: "Hmmm the product cannot be 61, because 61 is
prime, it cannot be 65, because 65 is a multiple of 5, 67 is a prime, 69 is
too big - Only 63 is left."


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Paul Erdos humor
« Reply #1 on: 二月 28, 2005, 11:44:41 am »
Every mathematician is supposed to have an Erdos Number: He himself has 0. If you have a joint publication with someone whose Erdos Number is N, then yours is N+1. What is your Erdos Number, professor?


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Paul Erdos humor
« Reply #2 on: 三月 02, 2005, 10:47:01 am »
What is your Erdos Number,

I don't know. Unofficially, I might have an Erdos number 5. My adisor seems to have an Erdos number 4 (or 5, he's not sure), mine will be his number plus one.


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Paul Erdos humor
« Reply #3 on: 三月 03, 2005, 12:17:39 pm »
Erdos numbers are not just restricted to mathematicians. Hank Aaron, the baseball great, has a Erdos number 1.

When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, thus passing Babe Ruth's record of 714, an unknown mathematician noticed that 714 = 2*3*7*17, 715 = 5*11*13, and 2+3+7+17 = 5+11+13. He called such numbers Ruth-Aaron pairs. It took a genius like Paul Erdos to prove that there are infinitely many Ruth-Aaron pairs. In a ceremony celebrating these events. Erdos and Aaron cosigned a baseball.