The ternary Goldbach problem
SeriesSnapshots of modern mathematics from Oberwolfach; 3/2014
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Leonhard Euler (1707–1783) – one of the greatest mathematicians of the eighteenth century and of all times – often corresponded with a friend of his, Christian Goldbach (1690–1764), an amateur and polymath who lived and worked in Russia, just like Euler himself. In a letter written in June 1742, Goldbach made a conjecture – that is, an educated guess – on prime numbers: "Es scheinet wenigstens, dass eine jede Zahl, die größer ist als 2, ein aggregatum trium numerorum primorum sey. (It seems (...) that every positive integer greater than 2 can be written as the sum of three prime numbers.)" In this snapshot, we will describe to what extent the mathematical community has resolved Goldbach's conjecture, with some emphasis on recent progress.