People who pay attention to this sort of thing may remember that Jorma Jormakka claimed to have solved the Navier-Stokes equation, one of the Clay Mathematics Institute’s $1M problems.
Looking at this arXiv page, it’s apparent that he purports to have solved three or four of the $1M “Millennium Problems”:
It’s an interesting way to try to make money. The Clay Institute’s website makes no mention of Jormakka so I don’t think they’re taking him seriously.
He explained on Reddit that, regarding his Navier-Stokes paper, he submitted a paper about something else to a journal, and stuck the Navier-Stokes part in as a lemma. That way the journal wouldn’t label him a crank and reject the paper off-hand. (He needed to get the paper into a journal to claim the prize.) Sounds pretty smart.
But he also admits that the intent of the official statement of the problem is something different than what he proved — however "People should carefully check the wording before they promise a million dollars to whoever solves it."
I think that’s a serious flaw in his strategy. Is Clay Mathematics Institute legally obligated to give $1M to whoever achieves what they stipulated? I doubt it, because a promise isn’t a contract (no “consideration” in legalese).
It’s likely that they can just label him a crank or a crackpot without losing face. In that respect it was a terrible idea to publish more than one solution. If he claimed just one solution he might have plausibly played the “outsider expert” and got sympathy from those who couldn’t parse / check his answer. By submitting more answers, he probably lowered his total probability of getting paid!
(That’s autocorrelated error terms, i.e. a dynamical system.)
What are some more examples of that?
- Hitting on lots of girls at the same bar / party.
- Writing your resume so it’s general enough to apply in several different industries / positions.