[FOM] Galois and P NP

Martin Davis eipye at pacbell.net
Sun Aug 15 10:31:24 EDT 2010

Harvey Friedman wrote:
So now it is your responsibility to inform us about Galois
"circulating an outright public claim to have solved P vs. NP".

I thank Harvey for crediting me with the ability to raise the dead.

Galois did "circulat[e] an outright public claim" to have found a 
necessary and sufficient condition for an algebraic equation to be 
solvable in radicals. It is said to have languished on Cauchy's desk.

Obviously it is a matter of judgment.  We have all dealt with cranks. 
Most of us have spent some hours thinking we had proved something, 
but missing an obvious flaw. A correspondent pointed out to me the 
example of Ramanujan, a poor clerk with no university education. 
Hardy took the trouble.

Just as with embarrassing email messages, the Internet makes it too 
easy for such things to escape and cause sensations. The ability of 
TeX to make the most flawed reasoning look beautiful is another factor.


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