The Shortest-Known Paper Published in a Serious Math Journal: 2 Succinct Sentences

Euler's conjecture, a theory proposed by Leonhard Euler in 1769, hung in there for 200 years. Then L.J. Lander and T.R. Parkin came along in 1966, and debunked the conjecture in two swift sentences. Their article -- which is now open access and can be downloaded here -- appeared in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. If you're wondering what the conjecture and its refutation are all about, you might want to ask Cliff Pickover, the author of 45 books on math and science. He brought this curious document to the web a couple of years back...

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Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in April, 2015.

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  • Antonio says:

    A small note, in the spirit of constructive criticism:

    >Euler’s conjecture, a theory proposed by (…)

    A conjecture is not a theory, it is a conjecture; leave it at that. It’s something that you guess is true but don’t know how to prove.

    >and debunked the conjecture

    “debunk” is harsh. You “debunk” a hoax, maybe. You *disprove* a conjecture, or, more causally, you “show it to be false”.

    > If you’re wondering what the conjecture and its refutation are all about, you might want to ask

    What the conjecture is, is written right there, on the last line of those “two swift sentences”. But ok, I suppose many of your readers may appreciate a bit of hand-holding – although it’s pretty readable, as long as you remember what an “nth power” is.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to be harsh, hope you take this in the way I meant it.

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