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kottke.org posts about Paul Erdos

The infamous Collatz Conjecture

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 09, 2016

For a recent episode of Numberphile, David Eisenbud explains the Collatz Conjecture, a math problem that is very easy to understand but has an entire book devoted to it and led famous mathematician Paul Erdős to say “this is a problem for which mathematics is perhaps not ready”.

The problem is easily stated: start with any positive integer and if it is even, divide it by 2 and if odd multiply it by 3 and add 1. Repeat the process indefinitely. Where do the numbers end up? Infinity? 1? Loneliness? Somewhere in-between? My favorite moment of the video:

16. Whoa, a very even number.

I love math and I love this video. (via df)

N Is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdos

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2012

N Is a Number is an hour-long documentary about Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős.

Erdős was famously a prolific mathematician who collaborated widely….he coauthored over 1500 papers with 500 different collaborators. He was also a homeless methamphetamine user.