Just because a good deal of my readers probably don’t look at any of the blogs on the blogroll under the category of Math, I will share some news that is spreading like wildfire. It seems to be the cool thing to do right now to point out that someone submitted a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis to the arxiv.

Hmm…some terms should be defined I guess. The arxiv is a preprint server for math and physics (and computer science, etc?). It allows you to “publish” your work before it gets picked up by a journal which could take years.

The Riemann Hypothesis is probably the most well-known problem in math. It has to do with the zeros of the Riemann zeta function. Blah, blah, blah…I know you don’t care, but!!! You get a million dollars if you solve it. (It is one of the seven Millenium Problems).

So the supposed solution has already had two people find holes. This type of thing happens all the time. The main reason for the blowing up of this is that the submitter is Xian-Jin Li, a professor at BYU. Usually the “solvers” are amateur mathematicians trying for a million dollars. A move like this is very embarrassing to an established research mathematician.

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At least there is a venerable tradition of posting incorrect proofs of RH on the arXiv.

By far the most entertaining reaction to such failed proofs is Brian Conrad’s. Strikes me as case duty calling. 🙂

Hmm…just to keep a minute by minute update on the situation, it seems as if he has corrected one of the two errors I referred to (Tao’s original one). The Conne’s one will probably be a deal-breaker, though.