High school students make math discovery 2,000 years in the making

Two students in Louisiana say they have made a math discovery that's 2,000 years in the making. (Source: WVUE)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 3:13 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 3:14 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE/Gray News) - Two high school seniors from New Orleans have caused a stir among mathematicians at a recent conference.

WVUE reports that the students from St. Mary’s Academy are showing a new way to look at a 2,000-year-old formula.

Calcea Johnson and Ne’kiya Jackson recently presented what they believe are four more new proofs for the Pythagorean theorem, the geometric theorem that the sum of the squares of the legs of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse (a² + b² = c²).

The theorem is used to calculate all sorts of things from construction to GPS coordinates. While there are reportedly more than 350 proofs to show why it works, the students said they have discovered these four new proofs by using trigonometry.

The two 17-year-old students said their presentation at the American Mathematical Society Southeastern Regional Conference in Atlanta got a lot of attention and a high level of interest from a group more geared toward collegiate and professional mathematicians.

“I saw a bunch of people writing down stuff and pulling up things on their computers. And they really connected with this,” Johnson said.

Catherine Roberts, the executive director of the American Mathematical Society, said the organization is thrilled to have young people with such a deep interest in math research.

“We got a lot of congratulations,” Jackson said. “Some people apparently started recording.”

Roberts said she has encouraged the students to submit their work for a peer review.