Persistence pays: Unknown Mathematician Proves Elusive Property of Prime Numbers [Article]

Yitang Zhang couldn’t find work in academia after earning his doctorate in 1991, so he’s worked for several years as an accountant and even in a Subway sandwich shop. Two weeks ago, he became a sensation across the mathematics world for his theorem on the properties of prime numbers, although it has no known applications. How / why did he become famous? Read on

“The big experts in the area tried and failed. I personally didn’t think anyone was going to be able to do it any time soon.” said Andrew Granville, a number theorist at Montreal University.  It took Zhang several months to work through all the details, but the resulting paper is a model of clear exposition. “He nailed down every detail so no one will doubt him. There’s no waffling.”

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