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Goldbach, Christian

mathematics sum conjecture science

(1690–1764) Russian mathematician: originator of ‘Goldbach’s conjecture’.

Goldbach studied mathematics and medicine and then travelled widely in Europe from 1710, meeting the leading scientists of the time and so preparing a basis for his later career as secretary of the Imperial Academy of Science at St Petersburg. He was erudite in mathematics, science, philology, archaeology and languages, but this wide range of interests, combined with his work as adviser on the education of the tsar’s children and his activity as a privy councillor and courtier, inhibited sustained work in mathematics.

He is best known for his conjecture of 1742, noted in a letter to , that every even number can be expressed as a sum of two primes (including 1 as a prime, if needed). Despite its apparent simplicity, this conjecture in number theory has so far defied all attempts to find a proof.

Goldbach also proposed that every odd number can be expressed as a sum of three primes (excluding 1 as a prime); this also is unproved.

Goldberg, Whoopi (1950–) [next] [back] Gold, Thomas

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