the man who loved numbers (6) a people person?

If it wasn't mathematics, Erdös wouldn't be . "Some French socialist said that private property was theft," recalled Erdös. "I say that private property is a ."

All of his clothes, including his socks and underwear, were silk because he had an undiagnosed skin that was made worse by other kinds of fabric. He didn't like people to touch him. If you extended your hand, he wouldn't shake it. Instead, he'd just put his hand on of yours for a second.

"He hated it if I kissed him," said Magda Fredro, a first cousin who was close to him. "And he'd wash his hands 50 times a day. He got water everywhere. It was hell on the bathroom floor."

Although Erdös physical intimacy and was apparently celibate, he was friendly and compassionate. What little money he received in stipends or lecture he gave to relatives, colleagues, students, and strangers. He could not pass a homeless without giving him money.

"In the early 1960s, when I was a student at University College London," recalled D G Larman, "Erdös came to visit us for a year. After collecting his first month's salary, he was by a beggar on Euston station, asking for the price of a cup of tea.

"Erdös removed a small from the pay packet to cover his own needs and gave the rest to the beggar." In 1984 he won the Wolf Prize, the most lucrative award in mathematics. He contributed most of the $50,000 he received to a scholarship in Israel he in the name of his parents.

"I kept only $720," said Erdös, "and I remember someone commenting that for me that was a lot of money to keep."