The Shortest Ever Papers – Numberphile

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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Tony Padilla discusses some of the shortest math papers to be published. From Conway to Nash.

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  1. R. Ringshifter says:

    I really thought I'd heard the supposed tale of the "1 page thesis" on THIS channel! Was it not Ramanujan? I looked it up, but it seems wrong… maybe it was his dissertation instead or something? I though it was like, the random letter he posted from India with loads of weird crazy results was allowed to be used as his thesis (but this seems wrong).

  2. Александр Багмутов says:

    Whats with the second figure of second paper? Top triangles can be interpreted as another way to fill empty line with 2 additional, but what with the bottom row?

  3. stopbotheringmegoogle says:

    Isn't the original theory of relativity paper by albert einstein also just 2 sides of a piece of paper.

  4. Boi says:

    i never understanf why some of these are so long. imo the best way to explain something is short and sweet.

  5. Arthur Clay says:


  6. Jim Skea says:

    Lovely ligatures

  7. Cal Worthington Jr. says:

    Shortest Ever Papers? Motherfucker ALL THE PAPERS you held up were 8.5 x 11 inches.

  8. edward laurence says:

    You forgot: The Ratio of Proton and Electron Masses by FRIEDRICH LENZ

  9. Gabriel Pedrosa says:

    Can't you guys use one of those whiteboards in the explanations instead of wasting paper sheets? It really hurts =(
    Anyways, great video as always 🙂

  10. Eric Middleton says:

    I've written shorter papers…

  11. The Toxic One says:

    "The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment Of A Case Of Writer's Block"
    … (nothing's written)

  12. Elizabeth Hogan says:

    2:16 TRIFORCE

  13. Enlightenmentbringer says:

    Statistics and Geology*

  14. Joseph Sparenberg says:

    Being a biochemist, I may have a biased opinion, but I believe the most impactful short paper in all subjects would be Watson and Crick's paper on the structure of DNA. The paper is just one page long.

  15. SirLightfire says:

    I wrote a bit of Java to determine if the counter-example was true. spoiler it is.

    public class Check {

    static int power = 5;

    * Checks the counter-example
    * @param args Command line args – not used
    public static void main(String[] args) {

    // A list of numbers to be taken to the power of `power`
    int[] preList = {27, 84, 110, 133};
    long[] list = new long[preList.length]; // Allocate enough space for the actual numbers

    long equals = pow(144, power);

    // Take each list item to the power of `power`
    for (int i = 0; i < preList.length; i++) {
    list[i] = pow(preList[i], power);

    // Sum the list
    long result = 0;
    for (long a : list) {
    result += a;

    // Compare and display results
    System.out.println("The counter example is: " + (result == equals));

    * Really inefficiently takes an int to some power
    * @param base the base number
    * @param exp the exponent
    * @return the result of <code>base ** exp</code>
    static long pow (int base, int exp) {
    long result = 1;
    for (int i = 0; i < exp; i++) {
    result *= base;

    return result;


  16. joshua43214 says:

    Not a paper, but…
    The body of my late fathers dissertation in number theory was 6 pages long. The remainder of the text was references.

  17. wouterdonna says:

    Do you even triforce

  18. DisThoughts says:

    In philosophy we have 'Is justified true belief knowledge?' by Edmund Gettier. It's just about 2 and a half pages long but changed the philosophical consensus on the correct analysis of knowledge entirely almost over night.

  19. Kathrine Packer says:

    alternative title: mathematicians going savage on each other.

  20. Bungis Albondigas says:

    Let us not forget that a picture tells a thousand words. So really, this paper is quite long in word length.

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