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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strange Genius

In his 2001 volume "Wonders of Numbers," Clifford Pickover ranked the "5 Strangest Mathematicians Who Ever Lived." One could offer a lot of suggestions and debate on this subject, but here is Pickover's slate, with links to their Wikipedia pages:

1. Paul Erdos

2. Srinivasa Ramanujan

3. Pythagorus

4. Theodore Kaczynski

5. John Nash

(I'll throw in a couple more that quickly come to mind: Grigori Perelman and Alexander Grothendieck.)

The oddest member in this whole group, from my viewpoint, is Kaczynski, who in case you've forgotten or didn't know, was a loner, domestic terrorist also known as the "Unabomber" (and also a Harvard grad and Michigan math PhD.) who eluded law enforcement for over 17 years, living a spartan, reclusive life in rural Montana, while sending out his occasional mail bombs and manifestos.

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