The Man Who Solved an Unsolvable Problem

The Man Who Solved an Unsolvable Problem

On May 24, 2000, Clay Mathematics Institute announced seven mathematical problems that were still unsolved up to that day. We started to build a website just to take notes and list the possible ways on how to solve any of the problems. We even created daily tech blogs to determine who and when these problems will be answered.

As mathematicians, we are always in pursuit of knowledge and for problems to prove or disprove. The challenge with conjectures is that there is no proof of whether they are true or not. That is unless you meet someone who solved a conjecture.

Brief Background

The Poincaré conjecture is actually a theorem that describes a three-sphere. It is, in conclusion, a hypersphere in a four-dimensional space. This was the simple explanation of the conjecture. Every simply connected, closed 3-manifold is homeomorphic to the 3-sphere.

It was not until 2003 when a man named Grigori Perelman solved this problem. We are not yet sure how long he was trying to solve the problem but it generally took him three years to prove and substantiate the Poincaré conjecture.

Who is Grigori Perelman?

Grigori Perelman is a Russian mathematician who was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union. He was seen as a child prodigy as his mathematical talents were being recognized not just by his mother, who did not pursue mathematics to raise him but confirmed by other people as well.

To foster this talent, his mother enrolled him in mathematics training programs. He excelled in all his academics. He continued his education in mathematics at the Leningrad State University.


It is seen throughout his career that he has always been a problem solver. In 1994, he got an eye over the soul conjecture and proved it. In 2003, he was the key element in proving Thurston’s geometrization conjecture. Because of this computations and proofs, he was able to prove the Poincaré conjecture.

Even if he solved this unsolved problem, he declined to receive the million-dollar prize for it. For a mathematician, being recognized as the one who solved an unsolved problem is a far greater achievement than any cash prize given.