Number theory abounds in problems that are easy to state, yet difficult to solve. An example is "Fermat's Last Theorem," stated by Pierre de Fermat about 350 years ago. Finding a proof of this theorem resisted the efforts of many mathematicians who developed new techniques in number theory, for example with the theory of elliptic curves over finite fields. A proof of Fermat's Last Theorem was finally presented by Andrew Wiles in 1995 in a landmark paper in the Annals of Mathematics.
Another famous problem from number theory is the Riemann hypothesis. This problem asks for properties of the Riemann zeta function, a function which plays a fundamental role in the distribution of prime numbers. Although it is over one hundred years old the Riemann hypothesis is still unresolved; in fact, the Clay Mathematics Institute has offered a prize of one million dollars for its solution.
Yet another famous open problem from number theory is the Goldbach conjecture which states that every even positive integer is a sum of two primes. Understanding this conjecture requires nothing more than high school mathematics, yet it has resisted the efforts of countless mathematicians.
- Adebisi Agboola
- Jeffrey Stopple
- Yitang Zhang