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The Collatz Conjecture: A Case Study in Mathematical Problem Solving

Journal: International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) (Vol.11, No. 4)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 472-478

Keywords : Collatz Conjecture; IterationInduction; Jean Paul Venn Diagram; set theory;

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Most of the answers so far have been along the general lines of 'Why hard problems are important', rather than 'Why the Collatz conjecture is important'; I will try to address the latter. The Collatz conjecture is the simplest open problem in mathematics. You can explain it to all your non-mathematical friends, and even to small children who have just learned to divide by 2. It doesn't require understanding divisibility, just evenness. The lack of connections between this conjecture and existing mathematical theories (as complained of in some other answers) is not an inadequacy of this conjecture, but of our theories. This problem has led directly to theoretical work by Conway showing that very similar questions are formally undecidable, certainly a surprising result.

Last modified: 2022-05-14 21:04:25