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My Predictions for The New Year

January 2, 2010

It is the end of the year, and time to make predictions for 2010

Jeron Criswell—The Amazing Criswell—was a psychic, famous for making wildly inaccurate predictions. He was a guest on talk shows of 1960’s, such the Jack Parr show, where he made many of his predictions.

Today I want to make my own predictions for 2010. I doubt that I will be as accurate as The Amazing Criswell, but I will try.

Here is a famous introduction he did for an Ed Wood movie:

One example of his predictions is, according to Wikipedia:

{\dots} Denver would be struck by a ray from space that would cause all metal to adopt the qualities of rubber, leading to horrific accidents at amusement parks.

Pretty tough to top his predictions, but let’s try.

0⇂0ᄅ ɹoɟ uoıʇɔıpǝɹd ʎɯ

Here are my predictions—they all are for the year 2010.

  1. A problem on Stephen Smale’s list of open problems will be solved.
  2. No circuit lower bound of {1000n} or better will be proved for SAT.
  3. A quantum computer will solve a non-trivial problem.
  4. A Computer Scientist will win a Nobel Prize.
  5. The Goldbach Conjecture will finally be solved—negatively. The number
    31^{119^{25253}} - 519^{17^{98373}} + 1731^{{636627}^{9111}} - 19 will be shown not to be the sum of two primes.

  6. I will have a paper rejected by a conference.
  7. Spam will grow to be 100.001% of all e-mail. The 0.001 is due to sampling error.
  8. Someone will discover a polynomial time factoring algorithm—but will not tell anyone.
  9. On April {1^{st}} over 3 billion people will type “google” into the Google search box, then precisely at 12:00 GMT they will all hit the enter key. This will cause the Internet to crash, and it will be down for 17 hours and 12 minutes.
  10. At least one of my predictions will be wrong, but not all of them.

Open Problems

What are your best predictions? I further predict that someone will make a better prediction, than any I have made.

Happy New Year.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    January 2, 2010 10:43 am

    Just to point out: prediction #1 is already true because the Poincare Conjecture is the second problem on that list 😛

  2. rjlipton permalink*
    January 2, 2010 11:00 am

    Good point. I meant that another problem would be solved in 2010. Sorry for the unclear statement. On the other hand, perhaps good to have a “prediction” that is already true?

  3. Sid permalink
    January 2, 2010 11:38 am

    If predictions 1-9 are true, then if 10 is true, then it’s false and if it’s false, then it’s true.

    Am I missing something here?

  4. January 2, 2010 11:43 am

    – In the next 10 years the transcendance of \zeta(3) (Apéry’s constant) will be prove.

    – In the next 30 years the irrationality of \zeta(5) will be established.

  5. January 2, 2010 11:46 am

    correction: proved

  6. Ori permalink
    January 2, 2010 12:20 pm

    The number in 5 is negative…

    • rjlipton permalink*
      January 2, 2010 4:09 pm

      My error. Well take its absolute value then? Okay?

      • F. Saidak permalink
        January 5, 2010 9:16 pm

        Goldbach conjecture cannot be disproved, because it is true. Besides, the number or representation (for even xs) grows faster than x/(log x)^2, making the probability of your number being an exception to Goldbach much much smaller than the probability of all atoms in the universe becoming colinear sometime during 2010.

      • rjlipton permalink*
        January 5, 2010 9:58 pm

        I think that Goldbach is true. But the prediction was have serious. We cannot prove that all even numbers of some simple form are the sums of two primes. The probability statement is a good heuristic, but is not a theorem.

  7. January 2, 2010 12:59 pm

    Criswell also showed up at the end of the movie: We once laughed at the computer…

    By the way, I predict that your #10 will be right. 🙂

  8. Paul permalink
    January 2, 2010 2:38 pm

    A trivial way to ensure that both #6 and #10 are satisfied is to submit this blogpost as a conference paper. 😉

  9. January 2, 2010 2:52 pm

    Had you removed the clause that not all of your predictions will be wrong from #10, then you could have ensured that at least one of your predictions will be correct 🙂

  10. January 2, 2010 3:08 pm

    ” A quantum computer will solve a non-trivial problem. ”
    Totally vague. You a mathematician? 🙂

  11. Mashhood permalink
    January 2, 2010 5:00 pm

    No one would complain this year about FOCS/STOC acceptances or lack of journal versions for conference papers 🙂

  12. January 2, 2010 8:35 pm

    How did you figure out this one: 31^(119^25253)-519^(17^98373)+1731^(636627^9111)-19 won’t be the sum of two prime numbers?

  13. January 2, 2010 10:25 pm

    Yeah, Prediction #10 will be absolutely right.

  14. January 3, 2010 12:15 am

    A Computer Scientist will get a Fields Medal.

    • January 3, 2010 12:41 am

      That would be very surprising, unless we use a very generous definition of computer scientist. Usually the Fields medal is awarded for a body of work, though a sufficiently large result (say P = NP) could be enough. It’s difficult to think of any CS theorist under the age of 40 who has a sufficiently significant contribution to mainstream mathematics to even be considered.

      P.S. I originally wrote this next section, then decided I wasn’t comfortable asserting it’s truth. But I think it’s at least worth contemplating, so I’ll include it with this caveat.

      The problem is that we’ve almost completely disconnected from the rest of math: it seems we’re only really contributing back in the areas of combinatorics, graph theory, logic (hardly anymore) and some very limited (and generally ignored) areas of geometry/topology. And even there we usually do a poor job of making it relevant or available.

      Of course, I might just be overly critical of CS theory’s relationship to modern mathematics (some crypto work is more closely aligned). But it seems that there is more interest in one direction (mathematicians looking at our problems) than the other. Look at how often guys like Tim Gowers or Terry Tao have discussed or looked at interesting CS theory problems, then ask yourself the last time a mainstream theorist took a serious interest in algebraic geometry or representation theory or dynamical systems.

      • January 3, 2010 12:50 am

        There’s some degree of interest in the opposite direction, though. Luca Trevisan and some of his coauthors have done interesting work applying ideas from theory to additive combinatorics, and of course there’s always Ketan Mulmuley’s geometric P vs. NP approach…

      • January 3, 2010 1:10 am

        Actually, Trevisan was one of the reasons I hesitated to assert my latter statement, but I consider him included under “combinatorics”. Mulmuley is certainly interesting, but while there has been a lot of talk, it has yet to really result in significant work by others. This trend could change in the near future, but it seems that most theorists are currently ill-equipped to carry out any of his program, it’s just too disconnected from what they’ve been doing. I’m not really networked into that area of the theory community though, perhaps I’m underestimating the work going on behind closed doors right now. I’d love to hear otherwise.

        P.S. And of course, the “it’s” in “it’s truth”above should be “its”. I wish we could edit our comments…

      • January 3, 2010 1:17 am

        It’s difficult to think of any CS theorist under the age of 40 who has a sufficiently significant contribution to mainstream mathematics to even be considered.

        May be, may be, but what if a CS (theorist or otherwise) makes a breakthrough in AI, like about… theorem proving?
        How would the flurry of “new and interesting results” which could possibly ensue be accounted for?
        My prediction about this is rather gloomy, that will be a disaster for all mathematicians, all toys broken, no more mathematical diseases only an unmanageable flood of “results”.
        I am not joking, some CS are really after that, true mathematicians beware!

      • January 3, 2010 3:27 am

        The only prize he/she can be awarded is from IEEE?

      • %-) permalink
        January 3, 2010 11:06 am

        Well it’s not exactly a prediction for 2010 but tasseography on
        new years eve ultimatively settled the P vs. Np question for me.
        Surprise surprise:
        P is not equal NP 🙂

        The answer has something to do with a peanut acording to the coffeecup 🙂

      • %-) permalink
        January 3, 2010 11:49 am

        Sorry my last entry wasn’t meant to be a reply to your comment.

        I agree that, for a computer scientist, a fields medal would be difficult to archieve.

        However the fundamental questions in CS are also deep and fundamental for mathematics. So i think real breakthrough in computer science, would most likley be a breakthrough in mathematics, too.

        I’m just an interested reader of this blog, not an expert in any way. But my
        impression of CS is, that it is in general more a “breakthrough science” than many areas of mathematics. By which i mean that solving specific problems is more important than building up great bodys of new theory. So for a big computerscience result a breakthrough would be necessary anyway, the
        real problem is you don’t see them very often.

    • January 3, 2010 7:26 pm


      “Sorry my last entry wasn’t meant to be a reply to your comment.

      I agree that, for a computer scientist, a fields medal would be difficult to archieve.

      However the fundamental questions in CS are also deep and fundamental for mathematics. So i think real breakthrough in computer science, would most likley be a breakthrough in mathematics, too.

      I’m just an interested reader of this blog, not an expert in any way.”

      I am convinced and I am just an interested reader too.

      I don’t know whether this is the right place to post this comment.

  15. Personne permalink
    January 3, 2010 12:12 pm

    Funny. My predictions for 2010 are that:

    1) someone will publish a proof that P is not equal to NP
    2) someone will publish a proof that P is equal to NP

    Happy new year!

    • rjlipton permalink*
      January 3, 2010 12:41 pm

      Pretty good prediction. Can generalize to other math diseases?

  16. January 4, 2010 5:39 am

    Prediction #1:

    OK, it was solved in 2009 but will probably be published in 2010.

    • rjlipton permalink*
      January 4, 2010 9:30 pm

      This is a great result. I may discuss it in future.

  17. January 4, 2010 6:30 am

    This Year new properties of Diophantine Series will be proved.

  18. January 4, 2010 10:44 am

    Ron Graham has given an excellent talk on October 29, 2009. The title of the talk is “Computers and Mathematics: Problems & Prospects” . Some of the topics covered in the talk overlaps with this blog.

    Enjoy it.
    Happy new year.

  19. January 4, 2010 5:50 pm

    Ed Witten is a Fields Medalist—a near-perfect example of someone who won for his (in von Neumann’s phrase) “rejuvinating return to the source: the reinjection [into mathematics] of more or less directly empirical ideas.”

    If physics can achieve this, doesn’t computer science have a similarly realistic chance?

  20. January 6, 2010 1:11 am

    Speculative announcement of the solution of a mathematical disease will be made at the International Congress of Mathematicians 2010 (ICM 2010), Hyderabad, India.

  21. grenzenlos permalink
    January 23, 2010 11:58 am

    There will be an increase of the demand to do graduate studies in logic at the computer science and mathematics departments.


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