Mathematician claims to have solved modern math's "holy grail"

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-21 17:52:49|Editor: Li Xia
Video PlayerClose

LONDON, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- British mathematician Michael Atiyah claims that he has a "simple proof" for the Riemann hypothesis, which has been one of the greatest challenges in math since German mathematician Bernhard Riemann brought it out in 1859.

According to a tweet posted by the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all the world, the British-Lebanese mathematician will address the forum on Sept. 24 and show the world his proof of the hypothesis.

"Will he (be) presenting a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis? Yes, that is what his abstract says," read the tweet.

The Riemann hypothesis is modern math's holy grail. Although it is almost incomprehensible for people without intensive math training, it describes the distribution of prime numbers among positive integers.

Prime numbers, very simple by definition, are the building blocks of modern mathematics, especially number theory. Achievements in prime number theory have been widely applied to computer sciences and telecommunications.

But prime numbers are also mysterious and inexplicable: in what pattern does a prime number emerge in the line of positive integers has remained elusive to generations of mathematicians.

Riemann proposed a theory that can, in a way, shed light on that mystery. But he couldn't prove it. Neither could all the brilliant minds that came after.

In 2000, the Clay Mathematical Institute announced the Millennium Prize Problems: seven of the most difficult problems still eluding mathematicians at the turn of the millennium. These problems were so important that solving any one would win a mathematician 1 million U.S. dollars.

Also because the Riemann hypothesis is so difficult, many mathematicians have decided to go ahead with their research and have developed over 1,000 theorems based the assumption that the hypothesis is correct. So if it is proven, it will be a huge relief to many.

Atiyah, 79 years old, is considered as one of the greatest living mathematicians and has won almost all possible prizes in mathematics. Now the entire community of science is holding its breath for Atiyah to present his proof and to see whether it holds. If it does, it will be the greatest achievement in mathematics in decades.