Thursday’s Big Idea
Today's Big Idea: Number Theory
Math is all around us, and our ability to access and understand numbers is more important than ever before. And yet, the world of high-level mathematics is almost completely inaccessible to the average person, and this was very much in evidence in recent weeks as we in the media have been struggling to understand the significance of possibly the greatest mathematical breakthrough of the 21st century.
Shinichi Mochizuki, a professor at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Kyoto University, released a 500-page proof of the abc conjecture in number theory which involves the relationship between prime numbers. If verified, Mochizuki has solved the "holy grail" of mathematics as the abc conjecture forms the basis of many other conjectures.
What we have tried to do in today's lesson is at least tried to unpack how Mochizuki did it. His way of thinking, after all, is fundamental to our ability to problem-solve in many different fields. What Mochizuki unpacked was the logic behind a pattern, one of the core skills necessary for success in the 21st century.