November 4, 2013
June 4, 2013
Two weeks ago, Yitang Zhang announced his result establishing that bounded gaps between primes occur infinitely often, with the explicit upper bound of 70,000,000 given for this gap. Since then there has been a flurry of activity in reducing this bound, with the current record being 4,802,222 (but likely to improve at least by a little bit in the near future).
It seems that this naturally suggests a Polymath project with two interrelated goals:
- Further improving the numerical upper bound on gaps between primes; and
- Understanding and clarifying Zhang’s argument (and other related literature, e.g. the work of Bombieri, Fouvry, Friedlander, and Iwaniec on variants of the Elliott-Halberstam conjecture).
Part 1 of this project splits off into somewhat independent sub-projects:
- Finding narrow
primeadmissible tuples of a given cardinality (or, dually, finding large primeadmissible tuples in a given interval). This part of the project would be relatively elementary in nature, relying on combinatorics, elementary number theory, computer search, and perhaps some clever algorithm design. (Scott Morrison has already been hosting a de facto project of this form at this page, and is happy to continue doing so).
- Solving a calculus of variations problem associated with the Goldston-Yildirim-Pintz argument (discussed at this blog post, or in this older survey of Soundararajan) [in particular, this could lead to an improvement of a certain key parameter , currently at 341,640, even without any improvement in the parameter mentioned in part 3. below.]
- Delving through the “hard” part of Zhang’s paper in order to improve the value of a certain key parameter (which Zhang sets at 1/1168, but is likely to be enlargeable).
Part 2 of this project could be run as an online reading seminar, similar to the online reading seminar of the Furstenberg-Katznelson paper that was part of the Polymath1 project. It would likely focus on the second half of Zhang’s paper and would fit well with part 1.3. I could run this on my blog, and this existing blog post of mine could be used for part 1.2.
As with other polymath projects, it is conceivable that enough results are obtained to justify publishing one or more articles (which, traditionally, we would publish under the D.H.J. Polymath pseudonym). But it is perhaps premature to discuss this possibility at this early stage of the process.
Anyway, I would be interested to gauge the level of interest and likely participation in these projects, together with any suggestions for improving the proposal or other feedback.
March 2, 2013
From Holroyd’s sorting networks picture gallery
A celebrated theorem of Ajtai, Komlos and Szemeredi describes a sorting network for $n$ numbers of depth $O(log N)$. rounds where in each runs $n/2$. Tim Gowers proposes to find collectively a randomized sorting with the same properties.
February 14, 2013
Let us have a little discussion about it.
We may also discuss both general and specific open research mathematical projects which are of different flavor/rules.
July 13, 2012
It’s been almost 24 hours since the mini-polymath4 project was opened in order to collaboratively solve Q3 from the 2012 IMO. In that time, the first part of the question was solved, but the second part remains open. In other words, it remains to show that for any sufficiently large and any , there is some such that the second player B in the liar’s guessing game cannot force a victory no matter how many questions he asks.
As the previous research thread is getting quite lengthy (and is mostly full of attacks on the first part of the problem, which is now solved), I am rolling over to a fresh thread (as is the standard practice with the polymath projects). Now would be a good time to summarise some of the observations from the previous thread which are still relevant here. For instance, here are some relevant statements made in previous comments:
- Without loss of generality we may take N=n+1; if B can’t win this case, then he certainly can’t win for any larger value of N (since A could simply restrict his number x to a number up to n+1), and if B can win in this case (i.e. he can eliminate one of the n+1 possibilities) he can also perform elimination for any larger value of N by partitioning the possible answers into n+1 disjoint sets and running the N=n+1 strategy, and then one can iterate one’s way down to N=n+1.
- In order to show that B cannot force a win, one needs to show that for any possible sequence of questions B asks in the N=n+1 case, it is possible to construct a set of responses by A in which none of the n+1 possibilities of x are eliminated, thus each x belongs to at least one of each block of k+1 consecutive sets that A’s answers would indicate.
- It may be useful to look at small examples, e.g. can one show that B cannot win when k=1, n=1? Or when k=2, n=3?
It seems that some of the readers of this blog have already obtained a solution to this problem from other sources, or from working separately on the problem, so I would ask that they refrain from giving spoilers for this question until at least one solution has been arrived at collaboratively.
June 3, 2012
Chris Evans has proposed a new polymath project, namely to attack the “Hot Spots conjecture” for acute-angled triangles. The details and motivation of this project can be found at the above link, but this blog post can serve as a place to discuss the problem (and, if the discussion takes off, to start organising a more formal polymath project around it).
November 13, 2011
May 12, 2011
Richard Lipton has just proposed on his blog to discuss the following conjecture of Erdos as a polymath project: that there are no natural number solutions to the equation
with . Previous progress on this problem (including, in particular, a proof that any solution to this equation must have an extremely large value of , and specifically that ) can be found here.
February 5, 2011
For the time being this is an almost empty post, the main purpose of which is to provide a space for mathematical comments connected with the project of assessing whether it is possible to use the recent ideas of Sanders and of Bateman and Katz to break the barrier in Roth’s theorem. (In a few hours’ time I plan to write a brief explanation of what one of the main difficulties seems to be.)
Added later. Tom Sanders made the following remarks as a comment. It seems to me to make more sense to have them as a post, since they are a good starting point for a discussion. So I have taken the liberty of upgrading the comment. Thus, the remainder of this post is written by Tom.
This will hopefully be an informal post on one aspect of what we might need to do to translate the Bateman-Katz work into the setting.
One of the first steps in the Bateman-Katz argument is to note that if is a cap-set (meaning it is free of three-term progressions) of density then we can assume that there are no large Fourier coefficients, meaning
They use this to develop structural information about the large spectrum, , which consequently has size between and . This structural information is then carefully analysed in the `beef’ of the paper. (more…)
July 8, 2010
This post marks the official opening of the mini-polymath2 project to solve a problem from the 2010 IMO. I have selected the fifth question (which appears to be slightly more challenging than the sixth, for a change) as the problem to focus on:
Problem. In each of six boxes there is initially one coin. There are two types of operation allowed:
- Type 1: Choose a nonempty box with . Remove one coin from and add two coins to .
- Type 2: Choose a nonempty box with . Remove one coin from and exchange the contents of (possibly empty) boxes and .Determine whether there is a finite sequence of such operations that results in boxes being empty and box containing exactly coins. (Note that .)
- All are welcome. Everyone (regardless of mathematical level) is welcome to participate. Even very simple or “obvious” comments, or comments that help clarify a previous observation, can be valuable.
- No spoilers! It is inevitable that solutions to this problem will become available on the internet very shortly. If you are intending to participate in this project, I ask that you refrain from looking up these solutions, and that those of you have already seen a solution to the problem refrain from giving out spoilers, until at least one solution has already been obtained organically from the project.
- Not a race. This is not intended to be a race between individuals; the purpose of the polymath experiment is to solve problems collaboratively rather than individually, by proceeding via a multitude of small observations and steps shared between all participants. If you find yourself tempted to work out the entire problem by yourself in isolation, I would request that you refrain from revealing any solutions you obtain in this manner until after the main project has reached at least one solution on its own.
- Update the wiki. Once the number of comments here becomes too large to easily digest at once, participants are encouraged to work on the wiki page to summarise the progress made so far, to help others get up to speed on the status of the project.
- Metacomments go in the discussion thread. Any non-research discussions regarding the project (e.g. organisational suggestions, or commentary on the current progress) should be made at the discussion thread.
- Be polite and constructive, and make your comments as easy to understand as possible. Bear in mind that the mathematical level and background of participants may vary widely.