Mathematician reveals 'simple' solution to a problem that has remained unsolved for 160 years
It baffled mathematicians for almost 160 years, but one expert has finally found a ‘simple’ solution to the Riemann hypothesis.
Professor Michael Atiyah, a renowned mathematician who spent most of his academic life at the University of Cambridge, revealed his solution at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum today.
The 90-year-old expert described the solution as ‘simple’, but said that he expects some scepticism from fellow mathematicians.
He said: “Nobody believes any proof of the Riemann hypothesis, let alone a proof by someone who’s 90.”
The Riemann hypothesis is based on prime numbers - those that can’t be divided by other numbers other than themselves and one.
While there’s no precise method to predict when the next prime number will occur, Berhard Reimann realised that the distribution of these numbers is very similar to a function, called the Riemann Zeta Function:
ζ(s) = 1/1s + 1/2s + 1/3s + 1/4s + …. up to infinity
But while Riemann observed this in action, he wasn’t able to prove it.
If Professor Atiyah’s solution - which he promises to put into layman terms - proves to be correct, he’ll be eligible for a $1 million prize.
But beyond that, his proof could have serious implications beyond theoretical maths.
Much of today’s digital security relies on the random distribution of prime numbers - meaning a solution to the Riemann hypothesis could raise challenges for cybersecurity.