Tuesday, April 06, 2004

NY Times: In Math, Computers Don't Lie. Or Do They?

"A leading mathematics journal has finally accepted that one of the longest-standing problems in the field -- the most efficient way to pack oranges -- has been conclusively solved. That is, if you believe a computer."
The crux of the matter is that thorough mathematical proofs are required to justify the claim of solving certain problems. In recent years, these proofs have become so long that computer programs have been written to skip a few steps. Previous published proofs like this have had many errors and problems. This proof is so long, and so tedious, it hasn't been completely checked even after a couple of years so it's been published with disclaimers. Maybe a computer should check the proof? Let's see how this develops.

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