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number theory

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The Simple Math Problem We Still Can’t Solve

September 22, 2020

Despite recent progress on the notorious Collatz conjecture, we still don’t know whether a number can escape its infinite loop.

A comically long “missing persons” poster for an odd perfect number that shows all the restrictions it has to satisfy.
number theory

Mathematicians Open a New Front on an Ancient Number Problem

September 10, 2020

For millennia, mathematicians have wondered whether odd perfect numbers exist, establishing an extraordinary list of restrictions for the hypothetical objects in the process. Insight on this question could come from studying the next best things.

Photo of Marijn Heule walking among computer processors
Abstractions blog

Computer Scientists Attempt to Corner the Collatz Conjecture

August 26, 2020

A powerful technique called SAT solving could work on the notorious Collatz conjecture. But it’s a long shot.

number theory

Landmark Math Proof Clears Hurdle in Top Erdős Conjecture

August 3, 2020

Two mathematicians have proved the first leg of Paul Erdős’ all-time favorite problem about number patterns.

Visualization of the distribution of prime numbers in the shape of colorful dots in a hexagonal pattern
Abstractions blog

Mathematicians Will Never Stop Proving the Prime Number Theorem

July 22, 2020

Why do mathematicians enjoy proving the same results in different ways?

A photograph of the mathematician James Maynard outside his home in Oxford, England.

A Number Theorist Who Solves the Hardest Easy Problems

July 1, 2020

In his rapid ascent to the top of his field, James Maynard has cut a path through simple-sounding questions about prime numbers that have stumped mathematicians for centuries.

Diagram showing a colorful visualization of the simple Lie group
Abstractions blog

The ‘Useless’ Perspective That Transformed Mathematics

June 9, 2020

Representation theory was initially dismissed. Today, it’s central to much of mathematics.

Photo of iron filings spread along magnetic field lines on a green and yellow background
number theory

Mathematician Measures the Repulsive Force Within Polynomials

May 14, 2020

Vesselin Dimitrov’s proof of the Schinzel-Zassenhaus conjecture quantifies the way special values of polynomials push each other apart.

Quantized Academy

To Win This Numbers Game, Learn to Avoid Math Patterns

May 7, 2020

Sizing up patternless sets is hard, so mathematicians rely on simple bounds to help answer their questions.