Round 1 Pick 2
A Philosophy/God/Religion/President/Grand Poobah/Guru
Pál Erdös and his mathematical philosophy
Most people think mathematics is about calculating things. Adding, multiplying, taking derivatives and integrals. However, Mathematics is about proving things. About asking questions and answering them through logic and clever arguments. Mathematics is much closer to philosophy than to a science if thought this way. Among mathematicians there are different ideas of how one should engage in research. Among pure mathematicians the two main camps are the "theory builders" and the "problem solvers". Mathematics needs both kinds of mathematicians to thrive, but I personally prefer the "problem solver" camp, so I will pick the main 20th century exponent of the "problem solver" mathematician: Pál Erdös (also known as Paul Erdös).
Erdös was prolific (publishing over 1500 papers with over 500 collaborators. Erdös travelled incessantly, being housed by mathematicians around the world, rarely staying at a place more than two weeks. One of the best aspects of his work is encouraging mathematicians to work together. He collaborated on so many papers that there is a notion called Erdös Number. It is sort of the Kevin Bacon of Mathematics (although the idea came before the Kevin Bacon game). If you have a paper with Erdos, then you have an Erdös number 1. If you have a paper with someone who has a paper with Erdös you have an Erdös number 2 and so on to get numbers 3,4,5,... .
Erdös was a great problem poser. Having a knack for asking interesting questions that lead to fruitful research. He created many problem solving techniques that are now essential in Combinatorics and championed some great methods in number theory.
While I think picking Erdös is a great pick in general in this category, I obviously have personal reasons for this choice. Since High School I have been attracted to the kinds of problems Erdös tried to solve. How are prime numbers distributed? How many people do you need in a room before you can guarantee that either 6 of them are all friends with each other or 6 of them are all strangers to each other? This is not known and in fact it is also unknown for 5, Spencer a friend of Erdös recalls the following Erdös joke:
Erdős asks us to imagine an alien force, vastly more powerful than us, landing on Earth and demanding the value of R(5, 5) or they will destroy our planet. In that case, he claims, we should marshal all our computers and all our mathematicians and attempt to find the value. But suppose, instead, that they ask for R(6, 6). In that case, he believes, we should attempt to destroy the aliens.
My choice for graduate school came down to which one would do Erdös style mathematics. When I studied abroad in Hungary as an undergraduate, I was inspired by the Hungarian mathematicians. The level of creativity is incredibly high.
Erdös was an eccentric, incredibly talented man that affected Mathematics a great deal in the 20th century and inspired a huge number of mathematicians. I am proud of having him be my first pick in this draft.
Picks so far:
Round 1: Paul Erdös and his mathematical philosophy.