# Thread: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

1. ## A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

I'll make this as concise and easy to understand as possible!

A brilliant Japanese mathematician called Shinichi Mochizuki spent more than 10 years of his life developing what he called Inter-universal Teichmüller theory. Among much else, it proves something very important called the abc conjecture. (No, that's not simple!)

To accomplish this, he had to develop an entirely new set of mathematical concepts and a new system of notation.

But here's the problem. It's so impenetrable, no-one else can understand it. Not even the world's very, very best. An IQ of 200 doesn't help at all. One of his peers commented:
"It looks like it's from the future, or from outer space."

And so an interesting discussion has ensued about what constitutes proof. In other words, how do you use logic to show if a statement is true or not, if on-one else understands what you're talking about?

Let's take Pythagoras' Theorem: that for a right-angled triangle, a2+b2=c2. My guess is that everyone reading this knows that one from school. And yes, you can easily prove it's always true.

But supposing you went back in time to meet a Homo Erectus. And let's assume he's friendly.

You could teach him how to make fire and cook meat. Or make better tools and clever traps. Or even maybe how to make a net and catch fish.

But you'd never be able to get him to understand the proof of Pythagoras' Theorem. And even if you're the only person in that prehistoric world who understands it, it's still true. It doesn't matter that Homo Erectus doesn't understand a lot about triangles.

But with Mochizuki's proof, the world of math has pretty much reached the consensus the proof can't be regarded as valid. Two world-class German mathematicians did work REALLY hard to try to wade through it all, and say they found a flaw. Mochizuki says they didn't understand it. No-one else has a clue.

This is just one of Mochizuki's four papers. The total runs to 500 pages, all full of notation, concepts and symbolism no-one has ever seen before.

http://kurims.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~motizuki/Alien%20Copies,%20Gaussians,%20and%20Inter-universal%20Teichmuller%20Theory.pdf

~~~

So now you know what it feels like to be a Homo Erectus.

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3. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

I'm not good at all at math,but when I say that 1+1 is not equal with 2,but with a bigger 1,no one believe me ,or when my wife "find" new words or phrase constructions combining 2,3 words in one and when we speak with other people in this new "language" nobody understand us not to mention that are untranslatable.

Yes,is intriguing what this professor found but we have to get ride of all dogmas,prejudices and constrains and only then we can be creative in understanding what he discovered.

Interesting for me at the moment is:
1.3. Introduction of identical but mutually alien copies

but I need to read the entire document.

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5. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Well, I have been told I am good at math.....but I stopped at "These two mutually alien copies of conventional scheme theory are glued together" and my mind began to wander....and I was staring out the window wondering what my dog was digging up.......

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7. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

42 I know, but it made you smile

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9. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Years ago I spent a night helping a friend celebrate his having finally been awarded his doctorate in mathematics. A scary-smart dude with a high capacity for Chivas Regal. Far more than mine, anyway. But I digress.

He finally convinced me to read his thesis, expecting me to express my admiration for such a scholarly achievement. My intellectual forte is in the field of English study, so I have spent my life avoiding numbers, but curiosity got the better of me: I gave it a shot. And here's the thing: there were no numbers in his paper! None! Its content, which ran to thirty pages, had lots of concepts and arcane symbols, but it was all nonsensical to me, even without the confusion of numbers. I did express my admiration for his intellectual prowess and ability to focus on such fantastical concepts, but I had no idea what he had actually presented, let alone proven. Mathematics, I have concluded, is a realm outside of what non-mathematicians consider reality to be.

Thus, to learn of a mathematician who is working beyond the ken of high performance mathematicians, I can but shrug and hope that they are able to sort it out amongst themselves.

Brian

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11. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Consider me totally stupid, if you like, but what difference does it make to anything of any relevance to anything really
important in this time? What will anything benefit from what they have said is of relevance?

I have always been considered as stupid by so called peers I think but maybe not.
I did not read most of the foregone data so really should shut up now.Sorry for wasting your time,

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13. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Ahhhh trying to wade into the weird world of attempting to make effable, the ineffable ... without sounding like a complete fool. I feel this guys pain ...

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15. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by East Sun (here)
Consider me totally stupid, if you like, but what difference does it make to anything of any relevance to anything really
important in this time? What will anything benefit from what they have said is of relevance?

Call me stupid if you want, I may be, I have always been considered as stupid by so called peers. Nothing new in that.
I did not read most of the foregone data so really should shut up, now Sorry for wasting your time,
Consider the Atom, no one had a use for that knowledge way back, what did it matter to know there's such a thing as an atom? It won't help anyone get their job done, or put food on the table, get a better job or keep everyone healthy in the family and so on back then

But without the understanding of how atoms work, we would not have any of the current technology today, so we would be stopped in time living a very different lifestyle, no planes, no rockets, no science as it exists today

Stuff like what's on that doc is not meant really to suddenly affect current life, it can't, it mean to set the base for future improvements, just like first generation that saw the power of the atom may not even be around anymore but we have all sorts of great stuff that came out of that

Someone has to figure things out and open new roads for future generations, right?

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17. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Mashika (here)

Someone has to figure things out and open new roads for future generations, right?
For sure. The history of mathematics has often been that first things are figured out simply as theoretical intellectual exercises. Then generations later, it's realized that all that arcane theoretical stuff is really useful in engineering. Electronics, aerospace, car and airplane engines, power stations, radio waves, your phone and computer. Maybe even your toaster!

An example: Isaac Newton, and the apple that dropped from the tree (maybe! ), and his insights into gravity, and what are now known as Newton's Laws of Motion. Those same equations — and the calculus he also developed — are now used in spaceflight. But that's not why Newton worked all that out... he did it simply because he could.

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19. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

The Force will be strong with the comments on this thread, but seriously, I want to find a Limitless pill just to understand what he’s even talking about.

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21. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

If no one can understand his papers on the subject, how can anyone be sure he is correct or be sure that he is incorrect?

It seems to me that mathematics is too important to leave to faith

What value is added to our understanding of universe or practical aspects of day-to- day life if no one can grasp the veracity, or not, of his assertions? Are we to hand the topic over to him and rely on his genius alone? Does what he writes about and his calculations and such make any difference to us at a basic level, or is he simply displaying his genius? How would we know?

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23. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Geophyz (here)
Well, I have been told I am good at math.....but I stopped at "These two mutually alien copies of conventional scheme theory are glued together" and my mind began to wander....and I was staring out the window wondering what my dog was digging up.......
There's a short Numberphile video about the abc conjecture (which this entire thesis, together with 3 other long papers, is claimed to prove). The Numberphile subscribers are pretty bright people. Quite a few of the YouTube comments were about the wallpaper behind the presenter, which was inexplicably patterned with pigeons.

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25. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Satori (here)
If no one can understand his papers on the subject, how can anyone be sure he is correct or be sure that he is incorrect?

It seems to me that mathematics is too important to leave to faith

What value is added to our understanding of universe or practical aspects of day-to- day life if no one can grasp the veracity, or not, of his assertions? Are we to hand the topic over to him and rely on his genius alone? Does what he writes about and his calculations and such make any difference to us at a basic level, or is he simply displaying his genius? How would we know?

Exactly. That was partly my imaginary example about explaining Pythagoras' Theorem to a Homo Erectus.

In our frame of reference, it's a proven truth. (And it's quite a simple one, too.) In the Homo Erectus world, it'd be incomprehensible and of absolutely no meaning or relevance. They'd all be excited about making a fire that evening, which you'd just taught them how to do.

Re Inter-universal Teichmüller theory, some think (maybe wisely!) that we'll just have to wait a few generations until someone comes along who's bright enough to (a) understand it all, and (b) explain it all clearly to everyone else.

Shinichi Mochizuki is clearly an eccentric geeky supergenius oddball — to say the least. When he finished this magnum opus, he never even shouted from the rooftops. He just quietly posted a small note on his blog, and never said a word to anyone. Then one or two people started to notice and it gradually all spread on social media.

His response to most people who ask him to please, please explain and expand on things (maybe he could do a lecture program! He'd sell a lot of tickets) is that they should just work harder at understanding what he's written. Doesn't help much!

There's a similar example, actually. Such a fascinating human story.

Another very famous conjecture (a 'conjecture' is something mathematicians believe is true, but it's never actually been proved) was called The Poincaré Conjecture. The best of the very best in the world had tried and failed to make any progress at all for a whole century.

Then a brilliant, eccentric, reclusive Russian, Grigori Perelman, succeeded. When he mentioned that he'd proved it, at first no-one believed him. But then others checked, out of intense curiosity, and realized that he was 100% right. He'd really done it.

He was awarded the Fields Medal (this is like the Nobel Prize for Math), but he declined it. Then he was awarded a million dollars cash, which was a longstanding prize for whoever might possibly prove the Poincaré conjecture. And he turned down the million dollars, too, though he was living in his mother's apartment in genuine poverty.

He said: "I'm not interested in money or fame; I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo."

This article describes Perelman quite well, after he'd refused the million dollar prize:
Homo Erectus would find all that hard to understand, too.

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27. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Well...im far from stupid....and care not what iq others think they are...especially if they cant explain their so called theroies in a manner that us appaeent less iq equivilents possess

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29. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Satori (here)
If no one can understand his papers on the subject, how can anyone be sure he is correct or be sure that he is incorrect?

It seems to me that mathematics is too important to leave to faith

What value is added to our understanding of universe or practical aspects of day-to- day life if no one can grasp the veracity, or not, of his assertions? Are we to hand the topic over to him and rely on his genius alone? Does what he writes about and his calculations and such make any difference to us at a basic level, or is he simply displaying his genius? How would we know?

I don't think it will be left to faith, at any time in history things looked impossible complex and then humanity went past that roadblock. Someone else will come up with an explanation and say true or false on this theory. Then later on, if true, someone may be good uses out of it.

Right now, we won't most likely figure out the entire thing because we look a it from an inadecuate point of view, maybe we are not smart enough yet to understand it but someone will eventually

I cannot build a rocket engine but i sure know why it can move in space without air, try explaining that to someone from 100 years ago (traveling on space without air), things just move forward and people get more knowledge aggregated so they can understand things better than previous generations (in my day, we had machine learning algorithms and google A.I. and stuff! Yes shut up grandma you're interrupting my virtual universe creation session, i got this planet orbit calculations wrong because of your yelling!)

Maybe this will end in nothing LOL, someone will completely prove it wrong and that's it, or prove it right?

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31. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

The short history of humanity and the longest evolution path in full freedom of choice gives us in the most beautiful way the symptomatic emotion between the illusion, the attention and the memory of knowing in an overview of the human from billions of perspectives seen from sources of psychology, sociology, neurobiology, anthropology, neuroscience, a true literature developed to raise awareness of the way and environment in which we function, but also from the perspective that "Anything is possible"

"Anything can be possible?" ... we say yes, but how long will it take to find usefulness in this, individually or perhaps at the same time collectively (?)

Sometimes, in my mind, I become my own source of culture in which mathematical terms explain my individual sovereignty through a single degree of spiritual coherence that I cannot explain in words and if I tried, it would not be, what must be according to science.
But it's a little fun for me and maybe I'll learn some of it, who knows, in another way, another time
Time ... a detail in the path or within reach of spirituality and science, who knows.
I just know, inexplicable, that now I have to drink my coffee...

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33. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
[There's a similar example, actually. Such a fascinating human story.

Another very famous conjecture (a 'conjecture' is something mathematicians believe is true, but it's never actually been proved) was called The Poincaré Conjecture. The best of the very best in the world had tried and failed to make any progress at all for a whole century.

Then a brilliant, eccentric, reclusive Russian, Grigori Perelman, succeeded. When he mentioned that he'd proved it, at first no-one believed him. But then others checked, out of intense curiosity, and realized that he was 100% right. He'd really done it.

He was awarded the Fields Medal (this is like the Nobel Prize for Math), but he declined it. Then he was awarded a million dollars cash, which was a longstanding prize for whoever might possibly prove the Poincaré conjecture. And he turned down the million dollars, too, though he was living in his mother's apartment in genuine poverty.

He said: "I'm not interested in money or fame; I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo."

This article describes Perelman quite well, after he'd refused the million dollar prize:

Homo Erectus would find all that hard to understand, too.
~~~

A little more about Perelman, who has fastidiously avoided journalists and any form of publicity. Even the author of the book about him, Perfect Rigour: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century, was unable to meet him.

One journalist who managed to reach him on his cellphone was told: "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms."

Now that, Homo Erectus would understand.

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35. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
[There's a similar example, actually. Such a fascinating human story.

Another very famous conjecture (a 'conjecture' is something mathematicians believe is true, but it's never actually been proved) was called The Poincaré Conjecture. The best of the very best in the world had tried and failed to make any progress at all for a whole century.

Then a brilliant, eccentric, reclusive Russian, Grigori Perelman, succeeded. When he mentioned that he'd proved it, at first no-one believed him. But then others checked, out of intense curiosity, and realized that he was 100% right. He'd really done it.

He was awarded the Fields Medal (this is like the Nobel Prize for Math), but he declined it. Then he was awarded a million dollars cash, which was a longstanding prize for whoever might possibly prove the Poincaré conjecture. And he turned down the million dollars, too, though he was living in his mother's apartment in genuine poverty.

He said: "I'm not interested in money or fame; I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo."

This article describes Perelman quite well, after he'd refused the million dollar prize:

Homo Erectus would find all that hard to understand, too.
~~~

A little more about Perelman, who has fastidiously avoided journalists and any form of publicity. Even the author of the book about him, Perfect Rigour: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century, was unable to meet him.

One journalist who managed to reach him on his cellphone was told: "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms."

Now that, Homo Erectus would understand.
Totally get the magic of living the most simple life, would not be able to do myself but it's charming in several ways and honestly i feel very attracted to it sometimes

I think he's way more smart than he let's people know, and he just simply figured out that the way to happiness was just to have some potato & mushroom soup LOL

No worries in the world but to have something tasty to eat and a place to sleep, your tea and a book or two to read, and you can just let life go easy and go sleep without any worry. Maybe I'm biased but I totally get that

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37. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

I am curious if and how the mathematician in the OP is being funded. Also throughout this thread are demonstrations
of the principle that to teach, or find agreement on an idea, one must start where the student is. If you can find what step the student understands, then you can build a bridge to more advanced and obscure ideas. I have tried to do this with the subject of fractals, and I can grasp simple concepts such as order underlying apparently random patterns, but then there is a picture of the Mandelbrot set, and I try to grasp that and my brains fall out. I read a lot of posts on the Buddhabrot set thread, and I couldn't find a bridge to understand (with my intellect) how it represented anything in the real world. But that thread had pictures, and they looked beautiful. In this one though my brains just fell out, but enough remained to agree with most posts! Thank God there is more to life than intellect. Also I hope he is on to something that someone can use to enrich lives in the future.

John

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39. ## Re: A Japanese math professor has a major new proof. But no-one can understand it

Posted by Geophyz (here)
Well, I have been told I am good at math.....but I stopped at "These two mutually alien copies of conventional scheme theory are glued together" and my mind began to wander....and I was staring out the window wondering what my dog was digging up.......
Got slightly ahead to where “alien copies of conventional scheme theory are glued together” by θ factor 😀
What’s θ than an attempt for limitless synchronicity between two time-space continuums. While we can prove or disprove it as real number for small integers
it would be nearly impossible to prove it real number “ad infinitum”.

Example: two unrelated galaxies holding together by unknown θ algorithm for a long time before they drift away. The binding factor θ is an abstract unknown to residents of both galaxies. Once they discover it they can pass through a wormhole to see each other. But then: do they have anything else in common than θ?

Taking next step would be like crossing to “alien galaxy”. The problem of θ is dissolved by moving through the θ worm hole but then the galaxies aren’t longer alien.
By that foolish act alone the value of θ starts increasing till it reaches another approvable value. Then it collapses to itself and one can start anew.
But it’s quite impossible to prove any θ has value set in infinite or as some kind of really large integer.

It would be nice if it was so, however 🐨

I’m going to think about it for the rest of the day 🙏 then read some more pages ..

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