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Rohit Gupta, who has an educational background in Chemical Engineering and describes himself as “a cosmologist who is interested in connections between physics and number theory”, is conducting an online workshop called KNK103 which is going to be a long mathematical expedition in which anyone can participate but for a fee of $100 to attempt solve the Riemann Hypothesis, proposed over 150 years ago and is one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems. Read the article here. Will this attempt at massively collaborative mathematics work? Gowers does mention this case in particular in the blog posted below:
“Now I don’t believe that this approach to problem solving is likely to be good for everything. For example, it seems highly unlikely that one could persuade lots of people to share good ideas about the Riemann hypothesis. At the other end of the scale, it seems unlikely that anybody would bother to contribute to the solution of a very minor and specialized problem. Nevertheless, I think there is a middle ground that might well be worth exploring…”
Gowers’ audience is of course professional mathematicians and that is who is referring to when he says “lots of people”. Gupta, however, is allowing non-mathematicians to participate. We will see if that $100 US will pay off. I for one won’t waste my money.
“In 2009, mathematician Timothy Gowers posed this question to the blogosphere: “Is massively collaborative mathematics possible?” He described an unsolved math problem and asked for help figuring it out. Over the next few hours and days, commenters began to pick at the problem together. They brought up incomplete ideas, which were expanded and incorporated into other peoples’ ideas, until Gowers posted 37 days later that the problem had (probably) been solved.”