World News

2 high school students say they found the proof of the Pythagorean theorem, which mathematicians thought impossible

Explanation of the Pythagorean theorem drawn on a blackboard.Getty Images

  • Two American high school students believe they have solved a mathematical mystery that has not been proven for centuries.

  • Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson looked at the Pythagorean theorem, the foundation of trigonometry.

  • The American Mathematical Society says teens should submit their findings to a journal.

Two New Orleans high school students believe they’ve succeeded in proving a 2,000-year-old theorem that has baffled mathematicians for centuries.

Their work has taken Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson far enough to present their findings to researchers, according to an interview with local television earlier this week.

Their work focused on the Pythagorean theorem, a staple of high school math lessons that defines the relationship between the three sides of a right triangle, expressed by the formula a2+b2=c2.

Although the theory is true in all plausible instances, no mathematician has been able to establish its truth from first principles, even though the theorem has been around in ancient Greece.

Because the theorem underlies trigonometry, experts thought it was impossible to prove it, because you can’t use trigonometry without already accepting that the theorem is correct.

In the summary presented by Johnson and Jackson last week, the two teenagers nodded to this, noting that the book “The Pythagorean Proposition” “categorically states” that there are no trigonometric proofs because they are “based on the truth of the Pythagorean theorem”.

They countered in their work that the claim “is not entirely true”. The two claimed they were able to prove the theorem using the law of sines, which was not based on circular trigonometry.

When the American Mathematical Society met in Georgia last week, Johnson and Jackson were the only high school students at the meeting, according to New Orleans-based news station WWL.

Their claim has not been subjected to the rigorous process of academic peer review – nor confirmed by other experts in the field.

Catherine Roberts, executive director of the American Mathematical Society, encouraged young mathematicians to submit their discoveries to a journal where they can be evaluated.

She said the society “pays tribute to these early-career mathematicians for sharing their work,” The Guardian reported.

“Members of our community can review their results to determine if their proof is a correct contribution to the mathematical literature,” Roberts said.

In an interview with WWL, the students said they were excited to be part of the process.

“There’s nothing like being able to do something that people don’t think young people can do,” Johnson said. “A lot of times you see this stuff, you don’t see kids like we do.”

Read the original Insider article


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button