Well, I don’t understand the question

Explaining the hypothesis they state: “The prime number theorem determines the average distribution of the primes.
“The Riemann Hypothesis tells us about the deviation from the average. Formulated in Riemann’s 1859 paper, it asserts that all the ‘non-obvious’ zeros of the zeta function are complex numbers with real part 1/2.”

And I’d need a little persuading from someone who does that the solution has been found:

A Nigerian professor has claimed to have solved a maths conundrum that had stumped scholars for more than 150 years.
Dr Opeyemi Enoch, from the Federal University in the ancient city of Oye Ekiti, believes he has solved one of the seven millennium problems in mathematics.
The professor says he was able to find a solution to the Riemann Hypothesis first proposed by German mathematician Bernhard Riemann in 1859, which could earn him a $1m prize, in an interview with the BBC.
However is solution to the problem has not yet been revealed.

“Dr Enoch first investigated and then established the claims of Riemann,” said a statement from the university where he teaches.
“He went on to consider and to correct the misconceptions that were communicated by mathematicians in the past generations, thus paving way for his solutions and proofs to be established.
“He also showed how other problems of this kind can be formulated and obtained the matrix that Hilbert and Poly predicted will give these undiscovered solutions. He revealed how these solutions are applicable in cryptography, quantum information science and in quantum computers.”

It’s possible that he has. But while it may well be culturalist, even racist, of me to ponder that perhaps he hasn’t, that’s the way I’m tending at the moment.

Update: and people who understand this rather better than I think he hasn’t.

22 comments on “Well, I don’t understand the question

  1. One of the most annoying things I encountered in Nigeria was every second bigwig you met held the title of Doctor, which was 9 times out of 10 an honorary title bestowed upon them by one of their mates who ran the University of West Swampland. They would then insist everybody referred to them by their title.

    I’ll clarify at this point that, as far as I know, Goodluck Jonathan actually did earn his doctorate in the proper manner.

  2. It was utterly obvious shit from the get-go. Anyone who knocks off the Riemann Hypothesis is going to get even more hoopla than when Wiles proved Fermat’s Last Theorem. It’s the single most outstanding unsolved problem in mathematics today. Even with Jihadis rampaging around Paris it would have made more of a splash.

    Also you’d think he’d know how to spell Pólya.

  3. That “correct the misconceptions that were communicated by mathematicians in the past generations” is a bit of a giveaway.

    Maths is about as solid as it gets. Very short on collective misconception. That’s the language of a circle-squarer’s communiqué

  4. gh: that’s exactly what I thought. Wonder if he wrote his paper in green ink?

    Of course there will be the usual suspects saying that any scepticism is raycissss. That’s bollocks. No-one thinks that Nigerians cannot make top-flight mathematicians. One merely observes that, in general, they do not.

  5. The case of Grigory Perelman still amuses, though.

    The Clay Mathematics Institute should have just quietly given him the cash (or a reasonable stipend) and told him to get in touch when he has something to publish.

    Whether they did or not, I have no idea.

  6. Bloke in Costa Rica – “Of course there will be the usual suspects saying that any scepticism is raycissss. That’s bollocks. No-one thinks that Nigerians cannot make top-flight mathematicians. One merely observes that, in general, they do not.”

    No one? Are you sure? Induction is a method that gets very short shrift these days. Personally I think that if we examine every swan known to mankind and they are white, the chances are pretty good that every swan is white. Finding Australia is embarrassing but does not disprove the basic method.

    In Nigeria’s case, it is the seventh biggest country in the world by population. Bigger than Russia or Japan. How many mathematicians of any note whatsoever has it produced may one ask? How many scientists of any importance?

    I am happy to accept that it is unfair to assume a genetic argument. And so I won’t. But it is reasonable to assume that some combination of poor diet, historic levels of hunger, the burden of disease, parasite-load and so on means that Nigerians are incredibly unlikely to produce a world class mathematician. Unlike, say, Russia’s European Jewish population (which is probably something like 30 or 40 times smaller).

  7. Dear Mr Ecks,

    I represent DR OPEYEMI ENOCH of Federal University in ancient city of Oye Ekiti. Some time ago, Dr Enoch discovered proof of famous Riemann Hypothesis. Unfortunately, powerful forces in corrupt Nigerian government conspired against him and suppressed publication of his paper. Now I am contacting you as a benefactor to help my friend. You will share 50% of Clay Mathematics Institute Prize of ONE MILLION DOLLARS. All we need to proceed is for you to provide FIVE THOUSAND US DOLLARS to sponsor publication in prestigious Oye Ekiti Journal of Number Theory.

  8. Anyone good enough to attempt a credible proof of RH would have to be plugged into the fraternity of Mathematics. There is the odd lone genius working in a garret somewhere, and both Wiles & Perelman fitted that description to some degree, but both were known to and in touch with other mathematicians. The story was obviously doubtful to anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the field, and any self-respecting reporter (both the Beeb World Service and the Crappygraph) should have had a ‘wait, what?’ moment.

  9. Tractor Gent – “Anyone good enough to attempt a credible proof of RH would have to be plugged into the fraternity of Mathematics.”

    Well yes and no. Mathematics is one of those fields where it is not entirely impossible. Physics especially produces the occasional brilliant person with no links to the rest of the scientific community. Satyendra Nath Bose is a good example as is Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Of course they both got taken up pretty quickly. Bose not so much.

    Is Erdos plugged in or not?

  10. @SMFS
    Erdos is dead but was most definitely plugged in. While he didn’t have a post , he knew everyone in Number Theory and many in Probability and collaborated with hundreds of them to write his 1500-odd papers. He was so plugged in that most mathematicians know their Erdos number (mine is 3 which is second most common):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erd%C5%91s_number

  11. As for the Riemann Hypothesis RT, for short)-it’s hard.
    Anyone capable* of proving it would have to be sufficiently plugged in to know that this is not how you would handle having a proof. For a start, you would approach several people in confidence to ask them to look for mistakes in your proof, because the embarrassment caused by making a false announcement would be almost impossible to recover from.

    *By capable, I don’t just mean clever, I mean possessed of the tools to tackle it.

  12. Ramanujan appeared out of nowhere. WKPD: Littlewood commented, “I can believe that he’s at least a Jacobi” while Hardy said he “can compare him only with Euler or Jacobi.”

  13. Anyone capable* of proving it would have to be sufficiently plugged in to know that this is not how you would handle having a proof… *By capable, I don’t just mean clever, I mean possessed of the tools to tackle it.

    Heck, anyone who knew that “Riemann Hypothesis” was the name of the problem in question would know to “approach people in confidence” first.

  14. I heard the BBC interview and almost immediately thought: ok, remind me what the Reiman hypotheses is then. At no point did they say what it was, and I was guessing it was “there are infinite prime numbers”, which was only half correct.

  15. I do like learning new things each and every day.

    Today I learned that my Erdős number is infinity.

    I can speak basic Hungarian though, which is probably rarer than being a mathematician.

  16. dearieme: Ramanujan was sui generis. Wiles, on the other hand, far from the popular perception of being a lone toiler beavering away in his shed, has held a sequence of illustrious academic appointments, including at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, which is where they stashed Einstein up until his death.

    Ljh: the thing about the Riemann Hypothesis is that even though it is readily explicable to anyone who was paying attention to the elementary bits of complex numbers in maths at school, most people are much, much more innumerate than that, so it takes a lot more preliminary groundwork. You don’t have to say: “here’s a Dirichlet series, the zeta function is one of them” but you probably do have to introduce infinite sums, for example, and show what we mean by “real part one-half”. Fermat’s Last Theorem was something even dunderheads could grasp.

  17. “Formulated in Riemann’s 1859 paper, it asserts that all the ‘non-obvious’ zeros of the zeta function are complex numbers with real part 1/2.”

    You’d have thought that someone might have done a transformation so that they became complex numbers with real part 1. Just for the prettiness of it.

  18. @dearieme “. Just for the prettiness of it”.
    Now there speaks someone with the heart of a mathematician!

  19. OK, dearieme, BiCR’s Hypothesis: all the non-trivial zeros of the function ζ(s/2) have real part one. How’s that?

  20. Riemann Hypothesis (Proven) by Albana Diez.

    \zeta (a+ib) = 0.

    with (a = 1/2 ; b = \sum_{n=3}^{infty}).

    \sum_{n=3}^{infty} = 1/2.

    \sum_{n=3}^{infty} = 1/3 + 1/6 = 1/2.
    \sum_{n=3}^{infty} = 1/3 + 1/9 +1/18 = 1/2
    \sum_{n=3}^{infty} = 1/3 + 1/9 + 1/24 + 1/72 = 1/2
    \sum_{n=3}{infty} = 1/3 + 1/9 + 1/24 + 1/81 + 1/648 = 1/2
    \sum_{n=3}^{infty} = 1/3 + 1/9 + 1/24 + 1/81 + … + …. = 1/12

    And so on.

    Published in: http://www.hrpub.org/journals/lour_info.php?id=26 Vol 1 (2) 2013

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