A Texas banker with a knack for numbers has offered $1 million for whoever can solve a complex math equation that has stumped mathematicians since the 1980s.
Dallas banker D. Andrew “Andy” Beal, who in 1997 established a $5,000 prize for solving his namesake equation, the Beal Conjecture number theory problem, has upped the ante in hopes of inspiring young people to pursue math, the Associated Press reports.
“Increasing the prize is a good way to draw attention to mathematics generally and the Beal Conjecture specifically," he said in a statement. "I hope many more young people will find themselves drawn into the wonderful world of mathematics."
The Beal Conjecture states that the only solutions to the equation A^x + B^y = C^z, when A, B and C are positive integers, and x, y and z are positive integers greater than two, are those in which A, B and C have a common factor. The American Mathematical Society in Providence, Rhode Island, said that typical of many statements in number theory, they're "easy to say but extremely difficult to prove.”
To earn the Beal Prize, participants have two years to submit a solution or counterexample. The proposed solution must be published in a reputable mathematics publication, while the counterexample is subject to independent verification, the American Mathematical Society said.
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In 1995, a similar math problem, Fermat’s Last Theorem, was proved by Andrew Wiles and Richard Taylor -- more than 350 years after it was written, Britain's Telegraph reports.
Now, the longest-standing math problem is Goldbach's Conjecture, posed by the Russian mathematician in 1742, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The theorem states that every even positive integer greater than three is the sum of two prime numbers.
The Beal Conjecture isn’t the first math problem whose solution was tied to a big cash prize.
In 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Mass., allocated seven $1 million prizes for problems now known as Millennium Problems. Several years later, one of the problems, the Poincaré Conjecture, was solved by the Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman, who reportedly refused to accept the prize.