Euler's sum of powers conjecture
Euler's conjecture is a disproved conjecture in mathematics related to Fermat's last theorem. It was proposed by Leonhard Euler in 1769. It states that for all integers n and k greater than 1, if the sum of n kth powers of positive integers is itself a kth power, then n is greater than or equal to k:
- a k
1 + a k
2 + ... + a k
n = bk ⇒ n ≥ k
The conjecture represents an attempt to generalize Fermat's last theorem, which is the special case n = 2: if a k
1 + a k
2 = bk, then 2 ≥ k.
Although the conjecture holds for the case k = 3 (which follows from Fermat's last theorem for the third powers), it was disproved for k = 4 and k = 5. It is unknown whether the conjecture fails or holds for any value k ≥ 6.
Euler was aware of the equality 594 + 1584 = 1334 + 1344 involving sums of four fourth powers; this however is not a counterexample because no term is isolated on one side of the equation. He also provided a complete solution to the four cubes problem as in Plato's number 33 + 43 + 53 = 63 or the taxicab number 1729. The general solution of the equation
where a and b are any integers.
Euler's conjecture was disproven by L. J. Lander and T. R. Parkin in 1966 when, through a direct computer search on a CDC 6600, they found a counterexample for k = 5, This was published in a paper comprising just two sentences. A total of three primitive (that is, in which the summands do not all have a common factor) counterexamples are known:
- 275 + 845 + 1105 + 1335 = 1445 (Lander & Parkin, 1966),
- (−220)5 + 50275 + 62375 + 140685 = 141325 (Scher & Seidl, 1996), and
- 555 + 31835 + 289695 + 852825 = 853595 (Frye, 2004).
In 1986, Noam Elkies found a method to construct an infinite series of counterexamples for the k = 4 case. His smallest counterexample was
- 26824404 + 153656394 + 187967604 = 206156734.
- (85v2 + 484v − 313)4 + (68v2 − 586v + 10)4 + (2u)4 = (357v2 − 204v + 363)4
- u2 = 22030 + 28849v − 56158v2 + 36941v3 − 31790v4.
This is an elliptic curve with a rational point at v1 = −31/. From this initial rational point, one can compute an infinite collection of others. Substituting v1 into the identity and removing common factors gives the numerical example cited above.
In 1988, Roger Frye found the smallest possible counterexample
- 958004 + 2175194 + 4145604 = 4224814
In 1967, L. J. Lander, T. R. Parkin, and John Selfridge conjectured that if
where ai ≠ bj are positive integers for all 1 ≤ i ≤ n and 1 ≤ j ≤ m, then m + n ≥ k. In the special case m = 1, the conjecture states that if
(under the conditions given above) then n ≥ k − 1.
The special case may be described as the problem of giving a partition of a perfect power into few like powers. For k = 4, 5, 7, 8 and n = k or k − 1, there are many known solutions. Some of these are listed below. As of 2002, there are no solutions for whose final term is ≤ 730000.
k = 3
- 33 + 43 + 53 = 63 (Plato's number 216)
- This is the case a=1, b=0 of Srinivasa Ramanujan's formula
- A cube as the sum of three cubes can also be parameterized as
- or as
k = 4
This is the smallest solution to the problem by R. Norrie.
k = 5
k = 7
- 1277 + 2587 + 2667 + 4137 + 4307 + 4397 + 5257 = 5687 (M. Dodrill, 1999)
k = 8
- 908 + 2238 + 4788 + 5248 + 7488 + 10888 + 11908 + 13248 = 14098 (S. Chase, 2000)
- Dunham, William, ed. (2007). The Genius of Euler: Reflections on His Life and Work. The MAA. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-88385-558-4.
- Titus, III, Piezas (2005). "Euler's Extended Conjecture".
- Lander, L. J.; Parkin, T. R. (1966). "Counterexample to Euler's conjecture on sums of like powers". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 72 (6): 1079. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1966-11654-3.
- Washietl, Stefan (17 June 2016). "The Shortest Papers Ever Published". Retrieved 14 September 2019.
- Elkies, Noam (1988). "On A4 + B4 + C4 = D4" (PDF). Mathematics of Computation. 51 (184): 825–835. doi:10.1090/S0025-5718-1988-0930224-9. JSTOR 2008781. MR 0930224.
- "Elkies' a4+b4+c4 = d4".
- "Sums of Three Fourth Powers".
- Frye, Roger E. (1988), "Finding 958004 + 2175194 + 4145604 = 4224814 on the Connection Machine", Proceedings of Supercomputing 88, Vol.II: Science and Applications, pp. 106–116, doi:10.1109/SUPERC.1988.74138
- Lander, L. J.; Parkin, T. R.; Selfridge, J. L. (1967). "A Survey of Equal Sums of Like Powers". Mathematics of Computation. 21 (99): 446–459. doi:10.1090/S0025-5718-1967-0222008-0. JSTOR 2003249.
- Giovanni Resta and Jean-Charles Meyrignac (2002). The Smallest Solutions to the Diophantine Equation , Mathematics of Computation, v. 72, p. 1054 (See further work section).
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