News FocusMathematics

From Solitaire, a Clue to the World of Prime Numbers

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1631-1633
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1631

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Participants at an October workshop at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, learned that a team of mathematicians has proved a deep similarity between a simple form of solitaire and a mathematical tool called random matrices, originally developed to understand the quantum behavior of large atoms. The implications could go well beyond card games to some of the most puzzling patterns in mathematics. Other recent work suggests that the same random matrix key might unlock the most important problem in number theory: proving the Riemann hypothesis, which describes how prime numbers are distributed among other integers.