Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another Math Puzzle Solved

It was first posed in 1970.

A mathematical puzzle that baffled the top minds in the esoteric field of symbolic dynamics for nearly four decades has been cracked — by a 63-year-old immigrant who once had to work as a security guard.

Avraham Trahtman, a mathematician who also toiled as a laborer after moving to Israel from Russia, succeeded where dozens failed, solving the elusive "Road Coloring Problem..."

For eight years, Weiss tried to prove his theory. Over the next 30 years, some 100 other scientists attempted as well. All failed, until Trahtman came along and, in eight short pages, jotted the solution down in pencil last year.

Good stuff. But not the best:

The puzzle tackled by Trahtman wasn't the longest-standing open problem to be solved recently. In 1994, British mathematician Andrew Wiles solved Fermat's last theorem, which had been open for more than 300 years.

Far, far better than I could do, though :-)


Donalbain said...

I just disproved the Riemann hypothesis but this comment section is too small to hold it.

Babbie said...

I love stories like this one--especially about his being 68. It's never too late.