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Math Trek

Mathematics by collaboration

The Polymath project harnesses the power of the Internet to use massive collaboration to solve a major problem in record time

11:14am, December 8, 2009

Late last January, University of Cambridge mathematician Tim Gowers decided to run a little experiment. Was it possible, he wondered, for a large number of mathematicians to collaborate openly on the Internet, pooling their ideas around a single problem? If it were possible, would it be easier, more efficient, more fun? Could the mathematicians together solve a problem they might not be able to solve individually?

So he posed a problem on his blog, one that was important and challenging and that lots of people had already worked on, including himself. To get the conversation started, he told people about ideas he’d had

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