Popular Mechanics

Part of the beauty of mathematics is that seemingly simple patterns lead to much more complicated questions and theories. The Collatz conjecture, which is the subject of a new video from YouTube channel Numberphile, is the perfect example of a simple problem that even the greatest mathematical minds in the world haven’t been able to solve. The essence of the question is simple. We have an interesting pattern: If you take a positive integer, and then divide by 2 if it is even, or multiply by 3 and add 1 if it is odd, then repeat this process with the resulting number, eventually you will end up with the number 1. Professor David Eisenbud of the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates …