Texas banker and self-taught mathematician D. Andrew Beal has increased the cash prize for proving a conjecture he discovered in 1993, the Associated Press reports.
Held by the American Mathematical Society, the $1,000,000 cash prize goes to the first to prove the Beal Conjecture, an offshoot of the legendary Fermat’s Last Theorem proof that was solved by Andrew Wiles in 1994.
Fermat’s Last Theorem went unsolved for hundreds of years. It said that no three positive integers a, b and c can satisfy
ax + bx = cx
when integer x is greater than two. While this may seem somewhat simple, and if you play around with it it becomes self-evident, it’s a complete pain to prove.
Andy Beal had been working on Fermat’s Last Theorem when he stumbled upon a different problem. At the time, he was using computers to look at similar equations with different exponents.
Beal’s Conjecture is related. If a, b, c, x, y, and z are all positive integers and x, y, z are greater than two,
ax + by = cz
is only possible when a, b and c have a common factor.
Beal found during his computations that the only solutions to the equation were when a, b and c had a common factor — like how 8, 6 and 10 all have a common factor of 2 — so he contacted folks in academia and set up a prize with the AMS to prove his conjecture.
So, if you find a proof or counterexample to Beal’s Conjecture that gets approved by the AMS-appointed committee and gets into a journal, you get a million bucks.
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