Dutch student solves ancient maths equation
10 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch student Geert-Jan Uytdewilligen claims to have cracked an age-old mathematics problem dating back to the time of the ancient Egyptians.
10 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch student Geert-Jan Uytdewilligen claims to have cracked an age-old mathematics problem dating back to the time of the ancient Egyptians.
It took the fourth-year Eindhoven student two years of puzzling by trial and error to create a formula which can be used to solve the roots of any polynomial equation.
The Fontys Hogeschool Toegepaste Natuurwetenschappen — where Uytdewilligen, 27, studies applied physics — has labelled the discovery an "enormous mathematical breakthrough".
But a school spokesman also told Expatica that the student's discovery has not been verified. Despite this, he was confident that no problems would be found in the equation.
Mathematicians and scientists since the time of the Egyptians have tried to solve the general polynomial equation. The last effort was made in 1832, newspaper Nederlands Dagblad reported.
And Uytdewilligen said in light of the centuries-old efforts to solve the problem, it was "a challenge" to solve what was purely a theoretical problem.
"I always feel at home in abstract thinking. Especially the higher-degree equation of the zeros intrigued me because scientists have been trying to find a solution for centuries," he said.
Uytdewilligen said if people want a solution, they only have to tap numbers into a computer to get the answer, newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported.
"But I have prepared an ABC formula by which you always get a solution, for whatever problem. I find that interesting, but I understand very well that this is not for everyone," he explained.
Uytdewilligen devoted on average 10 hours of his free time per week to solve the problem. His studies were never postponed and he passed every exam in the period he took to find a solution.
"It takes a long time to work your ideas out and in the begin they kept on ending in nothing. I thought of stopping on several occasions, but then I would think of something that I wanted to know would work," he said.
"In the summer holiday, I suddenly got the feeling that it would succeed. Since then, I have of course put in more than 10 hours per week. But essentially, two years is not such a long time for a solution to this problem because it was not simple."
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news