The paradox of the proof: about a mathematical proof that no mathematician is able to understand, save for the person who wrote it.

On MathOverflow, an online math forum, mathematicians around the world began to debate and discuss Mochizuki’s claim. The question which quickly bubbled to the top of the forum, encouraged by the community’s “upvotes,” was simple: “Can someone briefly explain the philosophy behind his work and comment on why it might be expected to shed light on questions like the ABC conjecture?” asked Andy Putman, assistant professor at Rice University. Or, in plainer words: I don’t get it. Does anyone?

The problem, as many mathematicians were discovering when they flocked to Mochizuki’s website, was that the proof was impossible to read. The first paper, entitled “Inter-universal Teichmuller Theory I: Construction of Hodge Theaters,” starts out by stating that the goal is “to establish an arithmetic version of Teichmuller theory for number fields equipped with an elliptic curve…by applying the theory of semi-graphs of anabelioids, Frobenioids, the etale theta function, and log-shells.”

This is not just gibberish to the average layman. It was gibberish to the math community as well.

It will be decoded. This happened with Bieberbach's conjecture back in 1984 - the unassuming Louis deBranges, a professor at Purdue (where I was just starting my master's in math) was lauded for solving it... 6 years after he had done so. No one could read the damned thing, until a

*team* of soviet mathematicians and grad students set out to prove that he had

*failed* to prove the conjecture, as he had claimed.

They wound up confirming (and cleaning up) his proof.

*After* which he was lauded throughout the world for solving an intractable problem.

Oh, and there are only four terms in that "indecipherable" title I didn't recognize; which is better than my first mathematical mentor, who used to tell us, "After 40 years in mathematics, I can walk into the library, pull out a mathematical journal, flip to the table of contents, and have

*absolutely no idea* what 95% of it is about!"

The point is that math is so freaking specialized that, unless you're one of the two or three people in the world working directly on a particular problem, you're going to have a rough time understanding any of it!

Note: Just because I recognize a bunch of terms in the title doesn't mean I'd have a snowball's chance in hell of understanding any of it...