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2014 Niven Lecture - Bjorn Poonen

Month: May 2014

Date: May 26

Name: 2014 Niven Lecture - Bjorn Poonen

Location: The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Undecidability in Number Theory. Hilbert's Tenth Problem asked for an algorithm that, given a multivariable polynomial equation with integer coefficients, would decide whether there exists a solution in integers. Around 1970, Matiyasevich, building on earlier work of Davis, Putnam, and Robinson, showed that no such algorithm exists. However, the answer to the analogous question with integers replaced by rational numbers is still unknown, and there is not even agreement among experts as to what the answer should be. The annual Niven Lecture Series, held at UBC since 2005, is funded in part through a generous bequest from Ivan and Betty Niven to the UBC Mathematics Department.