## Controversy Over 140-Year-Old Math Problem 64

Posted
by
kdawson

from the did-so-did-not dept.

from the did-so-did-not dept.

sciencehabit writes

*"British mathematician Darren Crowdy has been bragging all week about how he solved a 140-year-old math problem, as we discussed a few days ago. But three American mathematicians say they had the critical idea first."*
## American team didn't publish... (Score:5, Interesting)

Landau's group was discussing a bright new theory, and one of junior colleagues of Landau bragged that he had independently discovered the theory a couple of years ago, but did not bother to publish his finding.

"I would not repeat this claim if I were you," Landau replied: "There is nothing wrong if one has not found a solution to a particular problem. However, if one has found it but does not publish it, he shows a poor judgment and inability to understand what important is in modern physics".

## Re:Its not the thought that counts (Score:1, Interesting)

I always thought it mattered who published first, not thought of it.Yes, in Mathematics, moreso, even.

The first one to publish a

full proofis the one that gets credited with 'solving' the problem. Just coming up with the strategy doesn't mean much, because there's no way of knowing that the strategy will work until you actually carry it out. And doing so is not a trivial thing, either. (or they would've done it immediately)To take a recent, high-profile example, the Poincaré conjecture was solved by Grigori Perelman. But the strategy he used (of using the Ricci flow) had been suggested years earlier by Richard Hamilton.

## At the very least some credit (Score:2, Interesting)

Has Crowdy proven that his technique will never fail? The original article claimed that Crowdy overcame the obstacle of holes in the polygon... but at best it seems he overcame having holes too close together. In reality you have four iterations:

Crowdy over came holes that are "too close" together.

The three Americans deserve credit for overcoming the multiple hole obstacle.

The mathematicians in the 1920s overcame a single hole problem

The original mathematicians deserve credit for the formula in general.

The only way, IMO, that Crowdy deserves an equal amount of credit to the Americans is if his formula is actually universal. The additional functionality seems much smaller than that contributed by the three Americans.

## Re:History Repeats (Score:3, Interesting)

I'm too lazy to do the research, but off the top of my head I think that Galois and Euler were both beaten to the punch in certain theorems by contemporaries, but ultimately they (Galois & Euler) got the credit.