"In his (wonderful) autobiography, Paul Halmos says explicitly that for a mathematician, math must come before anything else, including family."

How was Paul Graham reading a mathematician's autobiography? Was he just reading widely - or was he actually embedded at some point, somehow, in the world of math?

Going through the grapevine of references, from your essay, and reading your earlier Tyler Cowen profile - lots of paths to follow in and out.

I came across Paul Graham's essay on Earnestness (http://www.paulgraham.com/earnest.html). All quotable! But what intrigued me most is this quote:

"In his (wonderful) autobiography, Paul Halmos says explicitly that for a mathematician, math must come before anything else, including family."

How was Paul Graham reading a mathematician's autobiography? Was he just reading widely - or was he actually embedded at some point, somehow, in the world of math?

Paul Graham is a PhD computer scientist, so definitely immersed in math, but from what I can tell he also demonstrably reads very widely.

Good find!