Wednesday, November 18, 2015

$1 Million Still Awaits...

Riemann Zeta Function along critical line Re(s) = 1/2

Long-time readers know this blog is as interested as any in news of the Riemann Hypothesis. I won't even dignify it with a link or any names, but there was a story this week of the Riemann Hypothesis being proved by a Nigerian mathematician... uhhh, yeah, sure.

The first problem was that I saw the story a couple days after the fellow had apparently announced the proof -- any genuine proof would've hit various legit math websites I follow within 30 mins. of being announced; maybe 3 minutes! The two places I initially saw the story were... well, let's just say, NOT the brightest bulbs in the world of journalism (although some more legitimate sources embarrassingly picked up the story-blurb later). And finally, call me prejudiced, but my gut reaction at this point, to ANY odd story emanating from Nigeria is, "FA-A-A-AKE!" (don't blame me, Nigeria has allowed it's own credibility to be trashed).

Anyway, plenty of others have voiced their skepticism, although admittedly, I've not yet seen the story specifically unmasked as a hoax or case of crackpottery from the get-go, or alternatively as someone with actual math credentials sincerely making an over-the-top claim that doesn't pan out (if someone by now knows the full details or backstory feel free to elucidate in the comments).

For now at least, seems safe to say that Riemann's 156-year-old mystery still awaits a solution that will send legions of mathematicians into paroxysms of jubilation(!), and $1 million (Clay Millennium Prize) still awaits the person who can do it.


ADDENDUM:  A couple of folks have emailed me with questions I'm not able to answer, but the following pieces from George Dvorsky and a Quora thread will help make clear why the announcement is given little credence:

What remains unclear to me is whether the individual involved (claiming the proof) is some sort of charlatan or a bonafide mathematician in error. Mistaken and crackpot Riemann Hypothesis proofs have been common over the decades and there's simply no basis for thinking this story is anything other. But I'll certainly update if, incredibly, anything more positive arises from the story.

image via Wikipedia 

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