Are AIs Replacing Mathematicians?


In July 2019, a team of researchers at Israel Institute of Technology (TECHNION) announced that they have developed the Ramanujan Machine, an algorithm that generates mathematical conjectures. Recently, on February 3rd, in the paper “Generating conjectures on fundamental constants with the Ramanujan Machine” published in the journal Nature, the team published some significant discoveries generated by the machine. This was a revolutionary shift both in the science and math community. 

In mathematics, conjectures are propositions which are suspected and assumed to be true based on reasonings from previously known information, however, they have no certain proof. For ages, these conjectures have only been developed by a few mathematicians such as Riemann and Gauss. This is because math conjectures and theorems are rigorous to generate. In fact, since the last century, not even a hundred mathematical theories have been generated, which proves how challenging it is to state a valid conjecture. Some mathematicians even devote their whole life just to state a conjecture. However, the Ramanujan Machine seems to be able to do it only in a few hours. 

The name of the AI comes from the name of the renowned mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who provided solutions to previously unknown and unsolved mathematical conjectures, proofs and theorems. He was also especially well known for devising 6165 conjectures, which contributed to the name of the AI. Similar to mathematician Ramanujan, the Ramanujan Machine is able to create numerous conjectures. 

Among its many capabilities, the Ramanujam Machine is especially specialized in creating conjectures about unchangeable constant numbers. Its ability was proved when it rediscovered the most famous constant – pi – only in a few hours, when mathematician Gauss devoted his whole life for its initial discovery. 

So what’s the process behind this machine? According to the TECHNION researchers, although the machine works with most of the algorithm, a potential limitation is that the actual proof of the obtained results is still done by humans. The process of the machine is similar to that of renowned mathematicians’ process when devising a conjecture. Solely dependent on algorithms, the machine revises a few formulas which represent a constant and searches for a pattern between the formulas. This process is repeated until a notable pattern is found, from which point researchers are involved to organize and prove the conjecture. 

Researchers are still working on enhancing the machine in hope for creating well-formulated solutions to yet unsolved mathematical problems. Since mathematics and science is closely related, researchers at TECHNION hope that their discoveries will contribute to providing practical solutions in the scientific community as well. 

In hope for the new machine to be well-known, TECHNION researchers have created a website for the Ramanujan Machine. The website provides access to recent publications by the researchers and results which show different conjectures. Under the “participate” section, users can have an experience of actually running the machine themselves, and ask for contributions such as suggesting a proof or developing new mathematical algorithms. If you are interested in math, it is worth giving a try!