Paul Erdös was born on March 26, 1913 in Budapest, Hungary, and it didn't take long for his mathematical brilliance become apparent. The prodigious thinker could multiply three-digit numbers and independently developed the idea of negative numbers by age three.

In 1930, at age 17, Erdös entered the Péter Pázmány University in Budapest, where he completed his undergraduate work and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics in just four years. Erdös was only 19 and a college freshman when his first paper was published, a new proof of Bertrand's conjecture. Though the theory was already proven in 1850 by a long-winded and messy proof, Erdös' elegant, simple explanation of the problem stunned the international mathematics community. A solution wasn't enough for Erdös; he needed the end result gracefully tied up in a bow.

Erdös authored around 1,500 mathematical papers, a record that has yet to be beaten. In fact, he was so prolific and so often collaborating with co-authors that he prompted the creation of the Erdös number, the number of steps between a mathematician and Erdös in terms of co-authorships. (Think of it as "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" for math geniuses.)

In his career, he chased down unsolved problems and hatched new problems in the fields of discrete mathematics, graph theory, number theory, mathematical analysis, approximation theory, set theory, and probability theory. The testimonials from peers of the mathematician highlight just how brilliant the dude was.

According to mathematician and computer scientist George Purdy: "In 1976, we were having coffee in the mathematics lounge at Texas A&M. There was a problem on the blackboard in functional analysis, a field Erdös knew nothing about. I happened to know that two analysts had just come up with a thirty-page solution to the problem and were very proud of it. Erdös looked up at the board and said, 'What's that? Is it a problem?' I said yes, and he went up to the board and squinted at the tersely written statement. He asked a few questions about what the symbols represented, and then he effortlessly wrote down a two-line solution. If that's not magic, what is?"