The Millennium Problems Are Seven Math Problems Worth $1 Million Each

Who wants to be a millionaire? You, probably. Here's a way to do it: Solve one of the seven Millennium Problems and you could earn $1 million. It might give you some confidence to learn that one of the problems has been solved. On the other hand, they're basically the most difficult problems in mathematics, so good luck!

Related: Fermat's Last Theorem Couldn't Be Proven For Centuries

Why we're covering this:

  • Hey, maybe you'll be the one to solve one of these unsolved problems
  • We can't help but be intrigued by unsolved mysteries...

Now's Your Chance

Are you good at math? Like, really, stupendously talented in the area of mathematics? If so, congrats, you have a handful of outstanding opportunities to use your skills to become a millionaire. The Millennium Problems, first laid out by the Clay Mathematics Institute in 2000, are seven math problems that each come with a $1 million reward. Why pair such difficult problems with such a handsome prize? The CMI explains the prize's reason for being on its website: "to record some of the most difficult problems with which mathematicians were grappling at the turn of the second millennium; to elevate in the consciousness of the general public the fact that in mathematics, the frontier is still open and abounds in important unsolved problems; to emphasize the importance of working towards a solution of the deepest, most difficult problems; and to recognize achievement in mathematics of historical magnitude."

Keep Your Dang Money!

As mentioned above, one of the seven problems has been solved. In 2002, Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman proved the Poincaré Conjecture, which had stumped mathematicians since 1904. The CMI describes the problem in full on the prize website, but put simply, it says that a three-sphere—a higher-dimensional sphere, kind of like a tesseract is a higher-dimensional cube—is the only possible type of bounded three-dimensional space that contains no holes. Another astounding piece of this story? Perelman turned down the $1 million prize. In 2002, Perelman also refused to accept the Fields Medal, which is the highest honor in mathematics. No one had ever turned down this distinction before. You're probably wondering why. That's another unanswered question for you to solve.

Hungry for more math problems? Check out "Challenge Your Brain Math & Logic Puzzles (Mensa)" by Dave Tuller and Michael Rios. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

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Written by Curiosity Staff March 21, 2017

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