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Iraqi-born Swede wows math world, and at least one blogger

May 29, 2009

Don’t ask me why, but I love stories like this:

An Iraqi-born 16-year-old reportedly has cracked a math puzzle that has gone unsolved for over 300 years.

Mohamed Altoumaimi, who immigrated to Sweden six years ago, took only four months to find a formula that explains a sequence of calculations known as the Bernoulli numbers, a code that had stumped some of the best experts in the field, Agence France-Presse reported.

I know what you’re thinking: what the hell are the Bernoulli numbers?

The Bernoulli numbers are a sequence of signed rational numbers that can be defined by the identity


These numbers arise in the series expansions of trigonometric functions, and are extremely important in number theory and analysis.

There are actually two definitions for the Bernoulli numbers. To distinguish them, the Bernoulli numbers as defined in modern usage (National Bureau of Standards convention) are written Bn, while the Bernoulli numbers encountered in older literature are written Bn* (Gradshteyn and Ryzhik 2000). In each case, the Bernoulli numbers are a special case of the Bernoulli polynomials Bn (x) or Bn* (x) with Bn=Bn (0) and Bn*=Bn* (0).

Everyone understand? Me, neither.

Okay, so maybe he is smarter than me. But can he do this?


Heh. Didn’t think so.*

*Name that movie reference, get a free Eyes It Willy!

UPDATE – Linked at Paco Enterprises. And, man, you people do not know your vague movie references.

  1. May 29, 2009 9:08 pm

    Dang, Lance, I can’t do the math OR make a Flashman mask with my hands. I feel so…inadequate.

  2. May 29, 2009 9:14 pm

    (B). (0). Barack Obama?

  3. May 29, 2009 9:17 pm

    I have three guesses: Good Will Hunting, Beautiful Mind and Pi.

    Did I win? Did I win? I needs me some IYSITWiLI.

  4. May 29, 2009 9:21 pm

    It’s easier than you think, Paco. You gotta start at the shoulders.

    Nope, sorry John.

    Oh, Sheepsie, you aren’t even close.

  5. May 29, 2009 9:37 pm

    What I’m also thinking: I don’t believe that an Iraqi solved a math problem.

    Is that racialist?

  6. May 29, 2009 9:45 pm

    Oh, OK, I just read that he was in Europe when he did it. In that case, I guess it’s possible.

  7. May 29, 2009 9:48 pm

    Hmmm, I’m veering back to implausible again. Are numbers not anti-Islamic? I’m pretty sure that the number 7 is, anyways, I read that somewhere or something.

  8. May 29, 2009 9:52 pm

    At least some people in Saudi Arabia know how to have fun:

  9. May 29, 2009 9:54 pm

    Lance, have I scared everyone away from commenting?

  10. May 29, 2009 10:07 pm

    Wolverine? Wilbur from the Bazooka Joe comic characters? (Hey, you did say “obscure”).

  11. May 29, 2009 10:36 pm

    How about Friday the 13th? 13 is both a Euler and a Bernoulli number. Did I win? Did I win?

  12. May 29, 2009 10:47 pm

    How ironic. Lance’s wife has to do the checkbook ’cause Lance has never even mastered arithmetic.

  13. DLJessup permalink
    May 30, 2009 12:08 am

    Real Genius, right before the ice sublimates.

  14. May 30, 2009 1:54 am

    The problem HAS NOT BEEN UNSOLVED FOR 300 YEARS. It’s just difficult, and impressive that he did it on this own.

    Just a fact check!


  15. May 30, 2009 11:04 am

    DLJessup wins!

  16. Carmen Elisa Herrera permalink
    June 1, 2009 12:24 pm

    WOW! a really bright guy!.


  1. Nathaniel Johnston » Corrected Math News: Iraq-born teen cracks maths puzzle

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