A University of Iowa math professor has solved a tough problem. And if you think you had a tough time with numbers, this problem was first posed…and ’til recently remained unsolved…since 1961. A team that works with Professor Kurt Anstreicher solved another a year ago that also made national headlines.There are some other ones lying around but those two are the most well known, really old unsolved problems. Though it was a pure math problem, it stemmed from the question of how to wire a certain number of circuits together, in a UNIVAC computer that’s been obsolete for decades. There are 36 components and you must figure out how to most efficiently wire them all together. He says this exact instance doesn’t matter anymore, but problems structured just like it come up all the time in the context of designing factories and hospitals. Anstreicher, who has a P-H-D in computer science, solved the problem by running one-point-eight billion sub-problems on a single personal computer. It took 18 days to come up with the long-sought answer.
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