40-year-old math problem solved

A 47-year-old math professor is receiving international acclaim for solving a math problem that had baffled his peers for more than 40 years.

Steven Hofmann's solution to the math problem known as Kato's Conjecture has earned him an invitation to speak next spring in Madrid at the 2006 International Congress of Mathematicians, which is held every four years.

For a mathematician, the event is "a really big deal," the University of Missouri-Columbia professor told. "It is like a baseball player being picked for the all-star team."

The problem that he finally solved in 2000 had been posed in research papers first written in 1953 and again in 1961 by Tosio Kato, a now-deceased Cal-Berkeley mathematician. It became known in the world of mathematics as Kato's Conjecture.

The problem applies to the theory of waves moving through different media, such as seismic waves traveling through different types of rock. Hofmann said the solution could allow mathematicians to better describe the behavior of waves traveling through a medium that changes over time, UPI reports.


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