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N Is a Number: Portrait of Paul Erdos (1993)

George Paul Csicery  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Price: $34.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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N Is a Number: Portrait of Paul Erdos + The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth
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Product Details

  • Directors: George Paul Csicery
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Zala Films
  • DVD Release Date: November 1, 1993
  • Run Time: 57 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MKXF1E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,585 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "N Is a Number: Portrait of Paul Erdos" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


Documentarian George Csicsery captures the whimsical genius of the man perfectly... Erdös is a delightful human being, and his bio celebrates him with wit and style. -- Kelly Vance, East Bay Express --East Bay Express

Charming, in part because director George Paul Csicsery does a good job in explaining the basics of Erdös's work, and in part because the idiosyncratic Erdös and his friends are such good storytellers;Video Classics," Discover magazine's listing of the top 10 science videos of the past 20 years. --Discover Magazine

Product Description

A man with no home and no job, Paul Erdös was the most prolific mathematician who ever lived. A wandering genius, Erdös, who died at age 83 in September 1996, was engaged in a cosmic struggle to uncover truths hidden by a stubborn adversary God in a metaphysical duel he confronted with the same wry humor he applied to politics, death and relationships. This one-hour 16mm documentary, filmed over a four-year period, follows Erdös through four countries, presenting his mathematical quest, its personal and philosophical dimensions, and the tragic historical events that molded his life. Animated sequences illustrate some of Erdös s favorite problems. The film was produced, directed and edited by George Paul Csicsery. Cinematography is by John Knoop, and original music was composed by Mark Adler. Animated sequences were created by Red Dot Interactive. The film was made with support from the American Mathematical Society, Film Arts Foundation, the Heineman Foundation, the Mathematical Association of America and the National Science Foundation s Informal Science Education Program.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Perhaps the most prolific mathematician who has ever lived and a strong candidate for the best mathematician of all time, Paul Erdos is the mathematical equivalent of a mega-caffeinated bumblebee. Traveling from place to place packing his formidable load of mathematical sweets, his goals are to create, solve and share. Generations of mathematicians are deeply indebted to him, both personally and professionally.

Born in Hungary in 1913, Erdos has known his share of personal tragedy. Two major wars, one containing a "civil" war of extermination of his "kind" (he is Jewish), as well as postwar political ostracism due to his "communist" leanings have all served to mold his life.

The producers of this film chose to avoid mathematics and concentrate on the person. Like me, you will probably be surprised at the quality of his table tennis game, Although his humor is pessimistic, it is clear throughout the 57-minute running time of this film that Erdos is a positive thinker.

Like the story of others who succeed and inspire, Erdos's story also has the ability to humble. Being an eyewitness to greatness has a humbling effect. "Genius" and "brilliant" are terms often overused when describing people and their work, but in this case one needs to search for superlatives to create an accurate description.

A visual portrait of one of the world's most interesting people, this tape is an absolute must for all academic libraries.

Published in Mathematics and Computer Education, reprinted with permission.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love math? December 28, 2007
If you love mathematics, you owe it to yourself to see this. Erdos is like a patron saint of mathematics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Wandering Mathematician March 21, 2013
Paul Erdos, a Hungarian mathematician, didn't write any bestsellers, was not well known in his lifetime outside mathematical circles, and had no fixed address. And yet, there are two popular biographies of him written for a general, non-mathematical readership, as well as this excellent documentary.

Erdos did not have any one or two major discoveries or mathematical accomplishments in his career -- he is known for the quantity and consistent quality of his work. And he is known for having treated mathematics as a team sport all his life. He worked with so many people over the years, publishing so many joint scientific papers that math people talk of an Erdos Number. Erdos's own number is zero, and anyone who co-wrote a paper with him has an Erdos Number of 1, and anyone who has written a paper with someone who wrote a paper with Erdos has an Erdos Number of 2, and so on. Apparently nearly everyone in the math world has an Erdos Number of at most 3, simply because Erdos wrote so many papers with so many different people.

Once Erdos's mother died, when Erdos was middle-aged, he started visiting friends and colleagues all over the world, staying with each for a few days or a few weeks, with no permanent home and no steady job. He guest lectured often and published more often. He had few needs and all his belongings fit in a single suitcase.

An eccentric, but appealing character, Erdos was born in 1913, so it's time to recall his life on what would be his 100th birthday. This one hour documentary is a fine place to start, then follow up with two good books, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth and MY BRAIN IS OPEN: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos.
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This is an excellent documentary about Paul Erdos who is and will always be one of the most profound mathematicians of all times. This documentary doesn't show a complete picture of Erdos's life but shows the most important bits who he is and what he has done. I will watch it over and over again, every time remembering the contributions this great man has done to the world not just in terms of his work in math but also how he has dedicated his life nurture mathematicians around the world who can continue long after he has "left" us.
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