chapter  2
9 Pages

The Search for Prime Numbers

WithMalcolm E Lines

Of all the numbers which the modern-day mathematician works with, the simplest to get a feel for are the ‘counting numbers’ 1,2,3,4,…. These are more formally referred to as the natural numbers, or the integers, and it is tempting to think that no scientific subject could possibly be simpler to study or to understand. Surprisingly, there is ample evidence to suggest that precisely the opposite is true. The ‘theory of numbers’ (meaning the natural numbers) is both one of the oldest and most challenging of sciences, abounding with tantalizing conjectures and unproven assertions to this day. It is perhaps the greatest of all challenges to the power of pure mathematical reasoning and the greatest treasury of mathematical truths.