Mathematicians Find New Solutions To An Ancient Puzzle

ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2008) — Many people find complex math puzzling, including some mathematicians. Recently, mathematician Daniel J. Madden and retired physicist, Lee W. Jacobi, found solutions to a puzzle that has been around for centuries.

Jacobi and Madden have found a way to generate an infinite number of solutions for a puzzle known as 'Euler's Equation of degree four.'

The equation is part of a branch of mathematics called number theory. Number theory deals with the properties of numbers and the way they relate to each other. It is filled with problems that can be likened to numerical puzzles.

"It's like a puzzle: can you find four fourth powers that add up to another fourth power" Trying to answer that question is difficult because it is highly unlikely that someone would sit down and accidentally stumble upon something like that," said Madden, an associate professor of mathematics at The University of Arizona in Tucson.

Equations are puzzles that need certain solutions "plugged into them" in order to create a statement that obeys the rules of logic.

For example, think of the equation x + 2 = 4. Plugging "3" into the equation doesn't work, but if x = 2, then the equation is correct.


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