Peruvian resolves 271-year-old math puzzle


Harald Andrés Helfgott (Photo: El Comercio)

Source: Peru This Week

Last week Peruvian-born mathematician Harald Andrés Helfgott solved the odd Goldbach conjecture, an open problem that had been unresolved for 271 years.

The conjecture was formulated by Prussian mathematician Christian Goldbach in 1742. In its weak form, the conjecture states that every odd number greater than 5 can be expressed as the sum of three primes. Helfgott, a researcher at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, posted a 133-page mansucript on May 13, proving the weak Goldbach conjecture.

According to Truth Is Cool, although Helfgott’s paper has not yet been formally published or peer-reviewed, it has been endorsed by renowned mathematician Terrence Tao, who was close to resolving the problem last year.

“I think the important thing is — beyond where we live or work — to maintain a commitment to education and science in Peru and South America, and the particularly local math,” Helfgott wrote on his personal Facebook page.

“As several of my friends who work here, I regularly return to my place of origin to giveworkshops, conferences, and taking care of the students.”

He added, “I would like this so serve as appreciation for the work of many generations of Peruvian mathematicians.”