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Beal Conjecture Worth $1 Million: Billionaire Offers Prize for Math Problem's Solution

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By Daniel Distant, Christian Post Reporter
June 7, 2013|12:28 pm

The Beal Conjecture's solution could make someone into a millionaire, if he or she is able to solve the difficult math problem. The challenge, created by billionaire Texas banker and mathematician D. Andrew Beal, will give the solver $1,000,000 to finally put to rest the problem he found in 1993.

The Beal Conjecture first came about when the self-taught mathematician was studying Fermat's Last Theorem, which states that Ax + By = Cz. After realizing that the solution to the 350-year-old problem could only happen with a common numerical factor, he realized he had stumbled upon a new problem.

"Others have looked at closely related problems, but I believe Beal was the first to express it in that way," Don McClure, executive director of the American Math Society, told ABC News. They first announced the $1 million price that Beal offered.

When Andy Beal was unable to solve the problem, he took it to math professor R. Daniel Mauldin from the University of North Texas, who suggested he offer a price. The prize offered in 1997 was $5,000.

Over time both Beal's fortune and the prize grew. Now he is worth $8 billion, ranking 43rd on the Forbes list of richest billionaires, but is still seeking an answer to the conjecture, which could revolutionize mathematics.

"Any solution to this problem would signal a real new idea and not minor progress," Jordan Ellenberg, a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin, told ABC News.

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Proof or a counterexample to Beal's Conjecture has to be approved by the AMS and got into a journal. The stipulation was added once the prize was increased to stimulate only serious attempts.

"I'd like to inspire young people to pursue math and science. Increasing the prize is a good way to draw attention to mathematics generally. … I hope many more young people will find themselves drawn into the wonderful world of mathematics," Beal said in a statement.

 

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