The hypothesis that every integer is to be treated as equivalent to the remainder it produces after a division by 7 is not after all a bizarre or unsound hypothesis. When you are looking into the calendar or diary to find out what day it is on a particular date, this is the hypothesis you are making. Such hypotheses and the 'bizarre'algebras that they lead to are at the foundation of the modern mathematical theory of coding and transmission of messages. The massive computerized electronic transmission of data, pictures, and messages from the Moon, Mars and space that is taking place in the past few decades would not probably have been error-free but for this mathematical theory.

On the statement that Mathematics is the only science in which the confirmation of every statement you make is one hundred percent in your hands .....

Since 1976, however, this statement has exceptions. It was in that year that two mathematicians, Appel and Haken proved a century-old conjecture, called the four-colour conjecture, by resorting to the aid of a large-scale computing facility in a massive way. To see this proof and agree with it one hundred percent one has to have access to a large-scale computer. In this sense even in mathematics a proof may not be totally accessible to everyone who has just the mental prerequisite to comprehend it.

Copyright V. Krishnamurthy Previous Page February 17, 1999