Ian Mulvany

November 18, 2023

In our time Paul Erdos

Episode link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001jc68 My rating: B-

I learnt hardly anything new in this episode. The book - the man who loved only numbers - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Who-Loved-Only-Numbers/dp/1857028295 is a much much better guide to the man. Having read that book I was excited about this episode, and was saving it up. I can recommend the episode if you don’t know anything about him.

I did learn a little about Ramsey theory - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theorem_on_friends_and_strangers, what is remarkable about this simple question is that it becomes unbounded after adding only a few additional people to the party.

I was disappointed that they didn’t cover:

  • his use of barbiturates
  • His phrase “another roof, another proof”
They did mention his concept or “the book”, where there is the best version of any given proof. Springer have a wonderful title - proofs from the book - https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978–3–662–57265–8.

Overall though, a moderate disappointment.

If you want to dig into in our time episodes more there is a fantastic site that allows you to explore the archive in all sorts of ways: https://genmon.github.io/braggoscope/.

Classifications from OpenAI:

  1. paul erdos
  2. the man who loved only numbers
  3. ramsey theory
  4. theorem on friends and strangers
  5. barbiturates
  6. “another roof, another proof”
  7. the book (concept)
  8. proofs from the book

About Ian Mulvany

Hi, I'm Ian - I work on academic publishing systems. You can find out more about me at mulvany.net. I'm always interested in engaging with folk on these topics, if you have made your way here don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything you want to share, discuss, or ask for help with!