A Week Inspired by Paul Erdos

Friday, 18 March 2011   |   Creativity Challenges

MathematicsPaul Erdos was a Hungarian mathematician that was considered to be one of the best mathematicians of our time.  Erdos published more papers than any other mathematician in history. He had some very interesting characteristics.  For instance he cared little for material possessions and most of his belongings would fit in a single suitcase.  He also spent most of his life travelling around,  visiting mathematicians to work on papers,  only to move on a few days later to work with another mathematician.  He also had a remarkable view of the world.

Erdos had a vocabulary that was very colourful.  Here are a few examples:

  • Children were known as epsilons because in mathematics that is a symbol to represent an arbitrarily small positive quantity.
  • Women were known as bosses.
  • Men were slaves.
  • People who had divorced were liberated.
  • Music was noise.
  • People who had stopped doing mathematics had died.

Some interesting quotes:

  • "Television is something the Russians invented to destroy American education."
  • "A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems."
  • "Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by fighting back."
  • "There are three signs of senility,  the first sign is that a man forgets his theorems. The second sign is that he forgets to zip up. The third sign is that he forgets to zip down."


Your challenge this week is to come up with an Erdos inspired vocabulary.  Each day next week come up with a new name for something.  It can be humorous or symbolic but it should definitely be witty.  Use this new word whenever you can.  See if you can get it to catch on.

If you need some inspiration you may find our Random Word Generator to be useful.

Learn to see the world through vivid description.  It will add a touch of fun and creativity to your life.

(As an aside,  if any of our readers have an Erdos number less than infinity, leave us a comment,  we'd love to hear about it.)


Remember to check back next Friday when our next Creativity Challenge will be released.

Question, Explore, Create, Innovate