Publish or perish

From @divbyzero:

“If ‘publish or perish’ were really true, Leonhard Euler would still be alive.”—Eric Bach

(Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) published more papers than any mathematician in history.)

Correction: Apparently Euler wrote the most pages in math journals, but Paul Erdős wrote more individual papers.

7 thoughts on “Publish or perish

  1. That’s an excellent quote from Bach.

    One very minor correction, though. I’m working on a biography of Euler myself, and I found that there’s a small debate over whether he was the most prolific mathematician, or if that honor goes to Paul Erdős. It seems that Erdős published more papers, but Euler published more pages. This is according to The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman.

  2. Paul Erdős was my hero in high school, and I seem to recall that even then he was known as the most prolific mathematician. Some seemingly unassailable scholarly opinions have been reversed since then and I assumed this was one of them.

    In my opinion Paul Erdős would take the relative statistics to be evidence that he was not only more prolific than Euler, but a better mathematician too, since he valued brief, clear proofs so much. I think he’d see it as two proud achievements — publishing more papers, and still requiring fewer total pages on which to publish them.

    Thanks for the link to Hoffman’s book — it looks interesting!

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