By Tech Powered Dad | September 14, 2011
I need to start this story with a disclaimer. While I learned a bit about groups during my abstract algebra class in my junior year of college, that class was definitely very abstract to me. In other words, I’m unlikely to be able to answer any questions in the comments for this one.
That said, the story of one of the men behind the world’s largest proof on the New Scientist is an interesting one. The Classification Theorem of Finite Groups (or “The Enormous Theorem”) was finally completed in 2004 by Michael Aschbacher, a Cal Tech professor. His 1200 page paper completed a theorem that needed papers from over 100 different authors from 1955 to 2004. Together, those papers totaled 15,000 pages. Dr. Aschbacher will receive the Rolf Schock prize in mathematics, which is accompanied by $75,000 in prize money.
Take note, high school geometry students. By comparison, those two-column proofs your teacher assigns you don’t seem nearly so bad, do they?