Math Mystery: Shinichi Mochizuki and the Impenetrable Proof

‘A Japanese mathematician claims to have solved one of the most important problems in his field. The trouble is, hardly anyone can work out whether he’s right.’ (Scientific American, article republished from Nature magazine.)

‘But so far, the few who have understood the work have struggled to explain it to anyone else. “Everybody who I’m aware of who’s come close to this stuff is quite reasonable, but afterwards they become incapable of communicating it,” says one mathematician who did not want his name to be mentioned. The situation, he says, reminds him of the Monty Python skit about a writer who jots down the world’s funniest joke. Anyone who reads it dies from laughing and can never relate it to anyone else.

And that, says Faltings, is a problem. “It’s not enough if you have a good idea: you also have to be able to explain it to others.”’

Shinichi Mochizuki and the Impenetrable Proof


Published by


"The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. " G H Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s