Changing the World after 50!


(E) The New Yorker has an excellent article “The Pursuit of Beauty” and a fun video to watch this week about the life of Yitang Zhang, from the University of New Hampshire, who after 50, established last year that you will never stop finding pairs of primes separated by at most 70 million, as you go further out along the number line. There are still many remaining questions about prime numbers such as the “twin prime conjecture” that asserts that there are infinitely many pairs of twin primes – prime numbers that have only one number between them or the “Goldbach’s conjecture” that asserts that every even integer greater than two can be expressed as the sum of two primes.

Professor Zhang’s result is considered as a major step by the mathematics community toward the “twin-prime conjecture”.

After Zhang’s published paper, UCLA’s Professor Terence Tao subsequently proposed a Polymath Project, Polymath8, a collaborative effort between mathematicians to continue the search for an upper bound for a prime gap. As of today, the bound has now been significantly reduced: lim inf (pn+1 − pn) ≤ 246.

Following is the link to the video of the New Yorker:

Yitang Zhang, “Bounded gaps between primes
Terence Tao, “The latest on the Polymath8 project

Note: The picture above is Professor Zhang’s result.

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Categories: Mathematics