Problem of a million

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If Math is your favourite subject and puzzling over problems your hobby then here’s something for you.

Try your hand:Tempting prize.Photo: R. Ragu
Try your hand:Tempting prize.Photo: R. Ragu

Do your parents ever offer you incentives to do well at school? Well, they may never be able to match this offer from a self-taught Mathematician and Billionaire Andrew Beal.

Beal has been trying to solve a math problem for 20 years. When he first started trying to solve the problem in 1997, and wasn’t able to, he called it the Beal Conjecture and offered $5,000 as a reward to anyone who could either prove the conjecture or offer a counter-example to disprove it. You may know that in Mathematics to prove something you have to offer a systematic formal proof, but to disprove it, just one counter-example is sufficient.

Is it or is it not?

After three years, Beal increased the prize money to $100,000 to the brilliant mind which could prove what he felt was intuitively true.

So, what is his conjecture? Beal postulates that “the equation: Ax + B y = C {+z} where A, B, and C are positive integers and x, y, and, z are positive integers greater than 2, has solutions only when A, B, and C have a common factor.”

Are you intrigued by this problem? I would urge you to try and solve it (or disprove the conjecture, by giving one counter example,) because now the prize money has been raised to a million dollars! To be eligible for the prize you have to solve the problem and it has to be published in a respected Mathematics Journal. It can be done; just remember Srinivasa Ramanujan. You must have read about his 125{+t}{+h}Birth anniversary last year and how in the year 1913 he solved a famous Mathematics problem and sent it to the Mathematician Hardy.

Why is Beal offering the prize? He’d like to inspire youngsters like you to pursue Mathematics and Science. He wanted to draw attention to Mathematics. “I hope many more young people will find themselves drawn into the wonderful world of mathematics,” is how he describes it. Indeed Mathematics is wonderful, so much so that I call it Mathemagic!

So is this twenty year old problem, the oldest unsolved Mathematics problem? No it is not.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Goldbach’s Conjecture has been confounding Mathematicians since 1742!

So, once you’ve solved the Beal Conjecture and collected your million you can solve the Goldbach’s Conjecture — not for money, but love — Love of mathematics!

Andrew Beal is a Dallas-based businessman and a self-taught number theorist. In 1993, he publicly stated a new mathematical hypothesis that implies Fermat's Last

Theorem as a corollary. His hypothesis

has become known as the Beal Conjecture. No counter-example has been found to

the conjecture.



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