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prime numbers

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.

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.
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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.

Multimedia

The Map of Mathematics

February 13, 2020

Explore our surprisingly simple, absurdly ambitious and necessarily incomplete guide to the boundless mathematical universe.

An illustration of a woman sitting in a field embroidering a flower pattern. Around her grow wildflowers that appear to be randomly distributed but whose colors reveal a hidden pattern.
number theory

Mathematicians Catch a Pattern by Figuring Out How to Avoid It

November 25, 2019

We finally know how big a set of numbers can get before it has to contain a pattern known as a “polynomial progression.”

Colored spheres arranged in pairs.
prime numbers

Big Question About Primes Proved in Small Number Systems

September 26, 2019

The twin primes conjecture is one of the most important and difficult questions in mathematics. Two mathematicians have solved a parallel version of the problem for small number systems.

A dartboard with pi at its center.
number theory

New Proof Settles How to Approximate Numbers Like Pi

August 14, 2019

The ancient Greeks wondered when “irrational” numbers can be approximated by fractions. By proving the longstanding Duffin-Schaeffer conjecture, two mathematicians have provided a complete answer.

Illustration of lock with polynomials surrounding it
Abstractions blog

Mathematicians Seal Back Door to Breaking RSA Encryption

December 17, 2018

Digital security depends on the difficulty of factoring large numbers. A new proof shows why one method for breaking digital encryption won’t work.

Art for "In the Universe of Equations, Virtually All Are Prime"
number theory

In the Universe of Equations, Virtually All Are Prime

December 10, 2018

Equations, like numbers, cannot always be split into simpler elements.