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December 11, 2009 / jnolen

Encyclopedias aren’t the only thing you can do with collaboration

In January, Timothy Gowers, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge and a holder of the Fields Medal, math’s highest honor, decided to see if the comment section of his blog could prove a theorem he could not….

Gowers’s goals for the so-called Polymath Project were modest. “I will regard the experiment as a success,” he wrote, “if it leads to anything that could count as genuine progress toward an understanding of the problem.” Six weeks later, the theorem was proved.

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