Date: | Wednesday, November 7, 2018 |
Speaker: | Prof. Chris Rorres
Department of Mathematics Drexel University Email: crorres AT comcast DOT net |
Title: | The Count of the Cattle of the Sun: From Mesopotamia to Homer to Archimedes |
Abstract: |
One of the oldest and best known mathematical word problems is Archimedes' Cattle Problem, first presented by Archimedes as a challenge to his colleague Eratosthenes more than two thousand year ago. Its roots, however, can be traced back to Homer and eventually to Sumerian legends from some five thousand years ago.
My talk will discuss how this problem influenced number theory and, in particular, the Pell Equation. Over the centuries the Pell Equation has engaged such mathematicians as Brahmagupta, Fermat, Pell, Euler, and Lagrange. From their analyses the number of Cattle of the Sun was finally computed (with the assistance of a computer) in 1965 and turned out to be an integer with 206,545 digits. I will also be presenting my own thoughts as to the authenticity of this problem and as to who may or may not have solved it. |