In order to celebrate mathematics in the new millennium, The Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts (CMI) has named seven Prize Problems. The Scientific Advisory Board of CMI selected these problems, focusing on important classic questions that have resisted solution over the years. The Board of Directors of CMI designated a $7 million prize fund for the solution to these problems, with $1 million allocated to each. During the Millennium Meeting held on May 24, 2000 at the Collège de France, Timothy Gowers presented a lecture entitled The Importance of Mathematics, aimed for the general public, while John Tate and Michael Atiyah spoke on the problems. The CMI invited specialists to formulate each problem.
One hundred years earlier, on August 8, 1900, David Hilbert delivered his famous lecture about open mathematical problems at the second International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris. This influenced our decision to announce the millennium problems as the central theme of a Paris meeting.
The rules for the award of the prize have the endorsement of the CMI Scientific Advisory Board and the approval of the Directors. The members of these boards have the responsibility to preserve the nature, the integrity, and the spirit of this prize.
Paris, May 24, 2000
Please send inquiries regarding the Millennium Prize Problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If it is easy to check that a solution to a problem is correct, is it also easy to solve the problem? This is the essence of the P vs NP question. Typical of the NP problems is that of the Hamiltonian Path Problem: given N cities to visit (by car), how can one do this without visiting a city twice? If you give me a solution, I can easily check that it is correct. But I cannot so easily (given the methods I know) find a solution.