Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Brain Is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos” as Want to Read:
My Brain Is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Brain Is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  339 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Like Genius, this portrait of legendary mathematician Paul Erdos -- abounding with ironies, fascinating in its exploration of mathematics -- introduces us to a brilliant and eccentric thinker.For half a century, mathematicians the world over would answer a knock at their front doors to find Erdos, a small suitcase in one hand and a bag full of papers in the other, announci ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published December 31st 1998 by Simon & Schuster (first published September 1st 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Brain Is Open, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Brain Is Open

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 974)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jamie Collins
Paul Erdős (pronounced air-dish) was a famous, eccentric and highly prolific mathematician who authored many hundreds of papers in collaboration with hundreds of other mathematicians. His name was unfamiliar to me until I read this xkcd cartoon, which makes an inside joke about Erdős Numbers, which are similar to links in the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game - they describe a mathematician's "collaborative distance" from Erdős.

This is a short book, and not so much a biography of Erdős as a collec
Peter Flom
Dec 23, 2015 Peter Flom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math, bio
A thoroughly delightful biography of a true eccentric genius. Erdos traveled the world (almost never in the same bed for a week in a row), staying with friends and doing math.
May 31, 2015 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I studied mathematics in my undergraduate years and still like it at heart. This book is a collection of the famous mathematician Paul Erdos' life, characters, achievements and especially his approach to share insights and conjectures with rising or renowned mathematicians. This often resulted in the collabration with the genius a written paper and subsequently spark off the trend in the mathematics world to publish papers not just solo but in collabration among mathematicians.

The book was writt
Sam Quinones
Apr 05, 2015 Sam Quinones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Hungary, in the decades after 1900 and before World War II, existed an intense "math scene" in which young people, Jews mostly, spent long hours of excited energy arguing and devising proofs for mathematical problems.

They would meet at the city park in Budapest, many of them proteges of some of the great math teachers in the city at the time.

They competed with, and fed off, each other, much like the bebop musicians of Harlem did in the 1940s as they were revolutionizing jazz.

The city had a m
Gaurav EVHS Desale
In this interesting book about an eccentric mathematician Paul Erdos is a good story based biography about his life. Born in Hungary during the war had a rough childhood but lived with the constant war going on outside his house. Due to tubercolosis his two sisters died and his parents want into depression. Since he did not go to school because his parents were overprotective His dad taught him everything he knew about math during his young years. The middle of the book is very boring because ra ...more
David Pantano
Jul 19, 2014 David Pantano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematica
My Brain Is Open to The mathematical journeys of Paul Erdos

"The meaning of life, Erdos often said, was to prove and conjecture. Proof and conjecture are the tools with which mathematicians explore the Platonic universe of pure form, a universe that to many of them is as real as the universe in which they must reluctantly make their homes and livings, and far more beautiful."

In the world of mathematics, Erdos was an icon. His stature and influence on mathematicians and on the mathematical world
Mohamed Zahran
Jul 29, 2014 Mohamed Zahran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This book introduced me to Paul Erdos more than a decade ago. Actually, I can say that this book made me like to read biographies in general. It is written in very lively tone. Very entertaining story about the legendary Paul Erdos, his 19 hours of working/day, his movement among conferences (He actually didn't have a home), and his continuous quest for proving theorems "from the book". If you like mathematics, especially number theory, then this book is a great source of inspiration. If you lik ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quite short work. A strong sense of the character of Paul Erdos is given, without providing exhaustive details about his work. Biographical accounts are leavened with well known math history chestnuts, such as how Gauss summed the numbers from 1 to 100 as a child. The math is accessible to the non expert, and touches on areas such as the Prime Number Theorem, graph theory and probability.

The book often references the documentary about Erdos, N is a Number, which runs under an hour and
Oct 23, 2011 Chrissy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone remotely interested in mathematics
I'm a little bit Erdos obsessed at the moment, so I came to this book already familiar with most of his extraordinary story. I previously read, and was blown away by, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth, but I have to agree with others that this is the better biography. Schechter maintains the focus mores strongly on Erdos than Hoffman does, opting to delve farther into Erdos's work than the (more accessible) work of other more famous mat ...more
Lisa Ahn
Mar 23, 2014 Lisa Ahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating and engaging biography of a true mathematical genius, Paul Erdos. I loved the anecdotes, the vivid portrait of a vital math community. While I didn't always "get" the math, I appreciated the glimpse into its rich complexities. Erdos was a remarkable individual, in so many ways.
Dec 31, 2012 Lachlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written biography of Paul Erdös, one of the greatest and most productive mathematicians of the twentieth century -- author of some 1,500 articles. Schechter portrays him as a profoundly sociable scholar who pioneered collaborative papers in mathematics, some written with teenage prodigies. Yet he was also a very unusual person, hyperactive as a child and with a horror of physical contact as an adult. Erdös Numbers have become a commonplace among mathematicians: co-authors of Erdös ...more
It's always amazing to me how many relatively unknown people have had profound effects upon society and the way we live today. Paul Erdős is one of those people, and this book helps to explain him, his life, and contributions. Erdős may have been a bit eccentric, but in Schechter's hands, he comes across as a fascinating man who truly loved mathematics, learning, and collaboration. If I was in charge, drug-abusing athletes, Paris Hilton, and the Kardashians would not be lauded as celebrities; in ...more
Apr 22, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Paul Erdos was a remarkable mathematician not only for his prodigious ability but also for his single-minded devotion and his uncanny knack for collaboration. He arranged his life so as to maximize "proof and conjecture," even to the point of being homeless for much of his career. He lived off lecture honoraria and the hospitality of other mathematicians, who typically got to coauthor a paper with him in return. Erdos skillfully found ideas that were perfectly placed to spur collaborators of all ...more
May 22, 2015 Chang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have discussed this book with Mike Greenspan and he was interested.
Dec 18, 2012 Khanh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
A well-narrated story of Paul Erdos, one of the most prominent mathematicians of the 20th century, along with a brief history of number theories. The proofs and conjectures are the gems of this book, but the fact that only the simplest ones are explained at length may disappoint some math-oriented minds. Other than that, it is a fun and relaxing read on the beauty of numbers and the great personalities behind the discovery of such beauty.
Picked it up at the library at my workplace. I am still a fan of reading physical (as opposed to electronic) books. The introduction mentions, among other things, that the Erdos (read 'airdish') has authored 1500 papers, his love for India and his itinerant lifestyle. And that was enough to get me to pick it up.
Jul 22, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it interesting to read about Paul Erdos. He's quite the personality! Sometimes when the author would get into all the math, it was too much thinking for me. And I have a relatively extensive background in math. So for someone unsure of their math, be prepared to skip some parts.
Mainly a catalogue of anecdotes about an influencial genius who was additionally a truly humble and generous man. A sensible and balanced amount of mathematical content for a book of this nature.

Not in the same league as, say, "A Beautiful Mind" (about the mathematician John Nash).
Jun 02, 2012 Saul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A surprisingly great read. Erdos was truly eccentric, but a great human being. I never realized he even existed until this book unfolded his life story to me. If you love math, and interesting people who spend their lives entangled with math's enigmatic charms, this is a book for you.
Mar 26, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging character. The author does a good job of showing the genius and the emotion of this brilliant mathematician. It is a very engaging read and only bogs down once or twice. I really enjoyed learning about prime numbers and the many obsessions people have with them.
Aug 05, 2011 Zac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a great book about an amazing mathematician that i'd never heard of. he was as brilliant as he was eccentric. i'm not big on biographies, but this one was really entertaining with great anecdotes and easy-to-understand explanations
Will Sin
Feb 11, 2008 Will Sin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to have an open mind
Those anecdotes about this great mathematician are intriguing and wonderfully inspiring. He's also one of my beloved mentors. By the way, my Erdo's number's beyond 5.
Sarah Sammis
Jun 16, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2002
I started reading this when my husband decided to go back to school for first a masters and then a PhD in mathematics. He's now a mathematics professor.
Stephanie Curran
Aug 04, 2010 Stephanie Curran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
While the theorems and proofs got me all tangled up, the stories of his life and the connections he made with others was fascinating.
Brendan  McAuliffe
Erdos is pronounced something like ' air - dish '
Jeff Delezen
Jun 30, 2015 Jeff Delezen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Odd genius. Crazy Ritalin taker. All genius.
Jan 12, 2013 Pepe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Paul Erdos was a pretty cool dude.
Joseph Sales
Aug 01, 2011 Joseph Sales is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-math
More math anthropology...
Nov 12, 2009 Vimal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the story of a great mathematician, very well narrated.
Basava rated it liked it
Jul 23, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 32 33 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Euler: The Master of Us All
  • Men of Mathematics
  • The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of  Paul Erdős and the Search for Mathematical Truth
  • I Want to Be a Mathematician: An Automathography
  • Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics
  • Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century
  • Proofs from THE BOOK
  • Who Is Fourier? a Mathematical Adventure
  • An Imaginary Tale: The Story of the Square Root of Minus One
  • Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of Numbers
  • The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics
  • The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero
  • e: the Story of a Number
  • Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel (Great Discoveries)
  • The Mathematical Experience
  • The Computer and the Brain
  • Math Girls
  • Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant

Share This Book

“Mathematicians are finite, flawed beings who spend their lives trying to understand the infinite and perfect.” 4 likes
More quotes…