N is a Number

March 15th, 1991 - February 28th, 1993 | PROJECT

This one-hour documentary film profile of world famous mathematician Paul Erdos is being made for eventual broadcast on the NOVA series. At age 76, the world's most prolific mathematician (1,100 papers and over 200 co-authors) still spends all of his time moving from country to country, meeting with other mathematicians to work on problems. The film will show how a prodigious mathematician, with a career of over 50 years, lives and works, how he interacts with his colleagues, and how the international community of mathematicians functions. It aims to explore the human side of a discipline in which God, Beauty and Numbers are the subjects of daily speculation. But what do mathematicians actually do? Because of his peripatetic nature and eternal curiosity, Erdos provides an ideal window on a field that has often been perceived by the public as remote and intimidating. The film will show Erdos and his colleagues at work and play. Interviews and archival materials will establish his contributions in combinatorics and in Number theory. Some more accessible problems will be illustrated with animation and computer graphics. The interplay of a warm human story with intriguing philosophical speculations and mathematical problems will show important results are arrived at in mathematics. This is expected to stimulate interest in mathematics among television viewers and students. The film is in production and only partial funding is being requested from NSF.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

George Csicsery, Principal Investigator, Film Arts Foundation


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 8955348
Funding Amount: 75000


Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Mathematics | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Media and Technology