Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How many mathematicians does it take to prove the Poincaré conjecture?

Perhaps a better question would be "How many math-months does it take to prove it?"* It's been three years since the Perelman program was announced, about 30 since Thurston's geometrization conjecture, and 102 since Poincaré first declared that the 3-sphere was unique among 3-manifolds for having trivial fundamental group; there were, of course, many more stops along the way. The answers to those questions are probably much larger than I would care to guess.

So, who's working on P vs NP?

*While the man-month is said to be mythical, I suspect the "mathematician-month" to be a realistic unit of measurement.

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