A Chinese mailman, who had no previous math training, has discovered a simplified process to solve complex mathematical problems, reminiscent of what Matt Damon’s character did in the classic flick “Good Will Hunting”.
Yu Jianchun, a 33-year-old migrant worker who doesn’t have a college degree, reportedly found an innovative alternative to verify Carmichaels, aka “pseudoprimes,” which are large numbers that only appear to be prime numbers. Carmichaels are widely used for credit card encryption and online payments.
Yu, who reportedly spent eight years developing his solutions and writing to Chinese universities, was only given the opportunity to do a demonstration of his findings at the Zhejiang University after the school’s professor, Cai Tianxin, recently sent him an invitation.
After his successful presentation at the university, academics have lauded his method to be more efficient than the original one.
“It was a very imaginative solution,” Zhejiang University math professor Cai Tianxin told CNN. “He has never received any systematic training in number theory nor taken advanced math classes. All he has is an instinct and an extreme sensitivity to numbers.”
His feat also impressed Silk Road Holding Group, which reportedly offered him a statistics position at the investment firm.
“I made my discoveries through intuition,” Yu told China Daily. “I would write down what I thought when inspiration struck about the Carmichael.”
His discoveries, while is still subject to verification, have already shocked experts on the subject.
“There have been additional theoretical results in this area — including several by myself and my co-authors — but these are all variations on a theme,” William Banks, a mathematician at the University of Missouri, told CNN.
“I was overwhelmed with joy, because my solution was completely different to the classic algorithm,” said Yu.
His amazing discoveries have recieved international media outlets referring to him as the Chinese “Will Hunting,” a reference to a movie that Yu has reportedly not seen. The classic 1997 movie starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams revolved around a mathematics genius who worked as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Amid all the praises and recognition, Yu, who describes himself as “slow-witted”, knows exactly what to focus on next: “I need to spend far more time studying math problems than others. Although I am sensitive to numbers, I barely have any knowledge about calculus or geometry,” he said.