Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen writes about his recent collaboration with other number theorists to create a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation.”
Using computers to crack open centuries-old mathematical puzzles
In mathematics, no researcher works in true isolation. Even those who work alone use the theorems and methods of their colleagues and predecessors to develop new ideas.
But when a known technique is too difficult to use in practice, mathematicians may neglect important—and otherwise solvable—problems.
Recently, I joined several mathematicians on a project to make one such technique easier to use. We produced a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation,” with the hope that number theorists of all stripes can more easily attack a wide variety of unsolved problems in mathematics.