Jorma Jormakka

People who pay attention to this sort of thing may remember that Jorma Jormakka claimed to have solved the Navier-Stokes equation, one of the Clay Mathematics Institute’s $1M problems.

Looking at this arXiv page, it’s apparent that he purports to have solved three or four of the $1M “Millennium Problems”:

  1. P ≠ NP
  2. Navier-Stokes
  3. Riemann Hypothesis
  4. maybe the Hodge Conjecture?

It’s an interesting way to try to make money. The Clay Institute’s website makes no mention of Jormakka so I don’t think they’re taking him seriously.

Jormakka tried to promote himself on Reddit and seems to monitor the internet pretty closely. He even commented on one of my earlier posts. Talk about your Social Media Marketing.

He explained on Reddit that, regarding his Navier-Stokes paper, he submitted a paper about something else to a journal, and stuck the Navier-Stokes part in as a lemma. That way the journal wouldn’t label him a crank and reject the paper off-hand. (He needed to get the paper into a journal to claim the prize.) Sounds pretty smart.

But he also admits that the intent of the official statement of the problem is something different than what he proved — however “People should carefully check the wording before they promise a million dollars to whoever solves it.”

I think that’s a serious flaw in his strategy. Is Clay Mathematics Institute legally obligated to give $1M to whoever achieves what they stipulated? I doubt it, because a promise isn’t a contract (no “consideration” in legalese).

It’s likely that they can just label him a crank or a crackpot without losing face. In that respect it was a terrible idea to publish more than one solution. If he claimed just one solution he might have plausibly played the “outsider expert” and got sympathy from those who couldn’t parse / check his answer. By submitting more answers, he probably lowered his total probability of getting paid!

(That’s autocorrelated error terms, i.e. a dynamical system.)

What are some more examples of that?

  • Hitting on lots of girls at the same bar / party.
  • Writing your resume so it’s general enough to apply in several different industries / positions.

About isomorphismes

Argonaut: someone engaged in a dangerous but potentially rewarding adventure.
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