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I believe I have developed a formal proof for an unsolved conjecture in mathematics; however, I'm not yet enrolled in university and I know maybe one individual who could check my proof.

Should I still submit this paper to a journal and risk it being published and then later errors being discovered? Furthermore, would an incorrect paper hinder admission to graduate schools? It's not that I would be upset about being wrong, it certainly wouldn't be the first time I was ever wrong. I just wouldn't want those errors to ruin my future. I wouldn't be concerned if the paper was denied by the journal because the error wouldn't be publicized.

I'm confident that my method is rigorous and proves the conjecture. However, I know the likelihood of errors being present is almost certain.

The overall question is: If I submit a paper to a journal and it is published, but later errors are found, will that hinder admissions to graduate school; or is that just a risk one takes in sharing research?

Note: I don't expect that the proof is wrong, I truly believe that it is correct. However, I must consider the event that it is proven incorrect.

  • It honors you that you consider it likely that the proof may be incorrect, even though you think that it is correct. This is what it takes to be a careful mathematician. – Wolfgang Bangerth Mar 20 '16 at 17:41
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    "I'm confident that my method is rigorous and proves the conjecture. However, I know the likelihood of errors being present is almost certain." These statements contradict each other. – Tom Church Mar 20 '16 at 17:58
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Have the one you know check it out. If it has merit, they'll know who can look at it closer, and tell you what to do.

It is very probable that your proof s wrong, or contains holes. Even so, you learn something (and learned by working it out).

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    Thank you for your answer. I will take your advice, and I do realize that it's very probable that it's wrong. It almost seems too simple for it not to have been guessed, but from other proofs in this field I can see that this approach isn't taken very often; I am still hopeful however. – Unconscious Stream Mar 20 '16 at 0:53
  • @UnconsciousStream, best of luck. You just might have seen something nobody before saw. Drive by MSE and/or MO for further discussion. – vonbrand Mar 20 '16 at 0:57
  • In the event that I do publish this paper, and no one seems to notice errors until after its publication, will that negatively impact graduate school admissions later down the line? – Unconscious Stream Mar 20 '16 at 0:59
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    Ah, thank you. I will trust in the review process. After all, I do plan to review it with at least that one potential individual who is far more knowledgeable than I am on the subject. If it gets past that individual, and any people she recommends, and the peer reviewers, it is almost certain to be correct (even though it almost certainly is not). In any event it's comforting to know that the damage is limited. Thank you once again. – Unconscious Stream Mar 20 '16 at 1:11
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    I disagree with vonbrand. Publication is NOT an effective way to determine whether or not your argument is correct. In particular, not every referee considers it their job to check the correctness of the proofs in a paper. – Tom Church Mar 20 '16 at 17:58

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