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Scholars Day 2005, Wednesday, April 13

An Incorrect Proof of the Four Color Theorem

This talk is based on the speaker's Undergraduate Honors Thesis titled “The Four Color Theorem and Related Graph Coloring Problems.” Given a map, the goal is to color countries or regions in such a way that no adjacent countries or regions share the same color. Alfred Bray Kempe’s "proof" (1879) of the Four Color Conjecture and his useful idea of chains are discussed. An explanation of the flaw in his proof and how it has turned out to be extremely difficult to prove this theorem by simply mathematical means is presented. The Four Color Theorem offered the first proof that used a computer and has not yet been verified by hand. The issues that have arisen from the computer-aided proof of the theorem, and the contradictions with the 'traditional idea of a mathematical proof’ are briefly mentioned.

Presenter: Desislava Boynska (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Math
Location: 204 Holmes
Time: 2:30 pm (Session IV)