The ABCs of Bitcoin Secrets

You may perhaps have heard of the intriguing mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki who has produced an alleged proof of an important theorem that is so difficult and involves the creation of so much original mathematics and notation that no one is sure whether the proof is valid. Here is one description:

On August 31, 2012, Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki posted four papers on the Internet.

The titles were inscrutable. The volume was daunting: 512 pages in total. The claim was audacious: he said he had proved the ABC Conjecture, a famed, beguilingly simple number theory problem that had stumped mathematicians for decades.

Then Mochizuki walked away. He did not send his work to the Annals of Mathematics. Nor did he leave a message on any of the online forums frequented by mathematicians around the world. He just posted the papers, and waited.

…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.

“Looking at it, you feel a bit like you might be reading a paper from the future, or from outer space,” wrote Ellenberg on his blog.

“It’s very, very weird,” says Columbia University professor Johan de Jong, who works in a related field of mathematics.

Mochizuki had created so many new mathematical tools and brought together so many disparate strands of mathematics that his paper was populated with vocabulary that nobody could understand. It was totally novel, and totally mystifying.

But there may be more secrets, secrets upon secrets because Ted Nelson has recently argued that this same mathematician, Shinichi Mochizuki, is also the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto who unleashed bitcoin on the world and then disappeared. Now this is almost too delicious to be true so take it with more than a grain of salt. Mochizuki, for example, has bona fides as a mathematician but he does not appear to have a record of sophisticated software creation. But if true, this would be awesome.

Hat tip: Barry Klein


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