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Peruvian Mathematician Claims Proof of 300-Year-Old Conjecture

Peruvian mathematician Harald Andrés Helfgott made headlines after news broke that he had demonstrated the solution to a 271-year-old problem in number theory.

Back in 1742, Prussian mathematician Christian Goldbach‘s theory, known as Goldbach's conjecture, stated that “every integer greater than 5 can be written as the sum of three prime [numbers]”.

This conjecture, one of the most difficult problems in mathematics, has been investigated by many number theorists and confirmed by computers for all even numbers smaller than 10^18. After working hard on the so called Goldbach's weak conjecture, Helfgott managed to fully demonstrate it.

Harald Andrés Helfgott, foto compartida en Facebook.

Harald Andrés Helfgott, image shared on Facebook.

Helfgott has a position at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, and has published two papers “claiming having improved the estimates of major and minor arcs, enough to prove unconditionally Goldbach's weak conjecture.”

The blog Cajón de sastre [es] republished the news [es] and included a link to the compete work on Helfgott's demonstration.

Meanwhile, Twitter users also expressed their opinion about Harald Helfgott's work using the hashtags #Helfgott and #Goldbach.

Alberto Anguiano (@Dr_LAAG) summed up the news in one tweet:

@Dr_LAAG: #Goldbach: “Todo número impar mayor que 5 puede expresarse como suma de tres números primos”, conjetura resuelta por un peruano #Helfgott.

@Dr_LAAG: #Goldbach: “every odd number greater than 5 can be written as the sum of three prime [numbers]”, conjecture solved by a Peruvian #Helfgott.

Twitter user and physicist V H Satheeshkumar (@VHSatheeshkumar) expressed himself in three tweets:

@VHSatheeshkumar#Helfgott proves of one of the oldest open problems in #mathematics, the ternary #Goldbach #conjecture . #numbers

@VHSatheeshkumar: Strong #Goldbach #conjecture: “Every even #number greater than 2 can be written as the sum of two #primes.”

@VHSatheeshkumar: Ternary #Goldbach #conjecture: “Every odd number greater than 5 can be written as the sum of three prime numbers.”

And (@dmv_mathematik) asked:

@dmv_mathematik: progress made proving #Goldbach‘s #theorem? #Helfgott says so, proof published at #math #prime #conjecture

Norwegian mathematician Torgunn Karoline Moe (@TorgunnKaroline) shared Helfogtt's work enthusiastically in two tweets:

@TorgunnKaroline: Goldbach-artikkelen ligger her . Les med måte! #helfgott #goldbach #abel

@TorgunnKaroline [no]: Goldbach's article can be read here Read his work! #helfgott #goldbach #abel

@TorgunnKaroline: @alexarje For en fantastisk nyhet!! S2 #goldbach #helfgott

@TorgunnKaroline [no]: @alexarje For a fantastic news!!! S2 #goldbach #helfgott

Mexico_Today (@Mexico_Today) tweeted cheerfully:


@Mexico_Today [es]: ►PERU: ‘INCREDIBLE!! PERUVIAN MATHEMATICIAN SOLVES GOLDBACH'S WEAK CONJECTURE’ #peru #matemáticas [mathematics] #goldbach

More ironically, Mario Daniel (@Desiderantes) said:

@Desiderantes: Ok señores, ya probaron la conjetura de #Goldbach, ya se pueden dormir

@Desiderantes [es]: Very well, you all out there, #Goldbach has been demonstrated, you may go to sleep now

As this is Peru we are talking about, a football reference could not be absent, as laslo rojas (@amnesico) wrote:

@amnesico: Confirmado: Harald Helfgott es la Foquita de las matematicas:  #Goldbach #Math

@amnesico [es]: Confirmed: Harald Helfgott is the Foquita of mathematics:  #Goldbach #Math

Jefferson Farfán, known as Foquita (little seal), is a Peruvian football player who is currently part of Bundesliga's Schalke 04 team.

Futhermore, Luis Biedma (@LBiedma) simply said:

@LBiedma: Acaban de probar la conjetura debil de #Goldbach!? Que leeeeendoooo!!! #OMG [Oh, Díos mío]

@LBiedma: #Goldbach‘s weak conjecture has just been demonstrated!? So niiiiiiice!!! #OMG

Lastly, Luis das Cragfeit (@Cragfeit) played with words:

@Cragfeit: ¿Entonces #Goldbach decía que si dos primos se casaban, siempre tendrían hijos que se dividieran por la mitad? #Preguntica #PrimeNumbers

@Cragfeit [es]: So, #Goldbach said that if two cousins got married, they would always have children that might be divided in halfs? #Preguntica [little question] #PrimeNumbers

In Spanish, “cousin” and “prime” are the same word: “primo.”

As Helfgott shared on Facebook [es]:

Me parece que lo importante es – mas alla de donde vivamos o trabajemos – mantener un compromiso con la educacion y la ciencias en el Peru y Sudamerica, y con la matematica local en particular. […] Quisiera que esto sirva para que el trabajo que muchas generaciones han hecho por la matematica peruana sea apreciado.

I think the important thing -regardless of where we came from or where we live or work- is to stay engaged with education and science in Peru and South America, and with local mathematics in particular. […] I'd like this to be useful so the work many generations have made for Peruvian mathematics might be appreciated.


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