Watch: Is the Math Problem from 'Good Will Hunting' Really That Difficult to Figure Out?

Watch: Is the Math Problem from 'Good Will Hunting' Really That Difficult to Figure Out?

Mar 14, 2013

 

Gus Van Sant's 1997 film Good Will Hunting — cowritten by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who also star in the film) — follows the rise of a troubled Southie (Matt Damon) who works as a janitor at MIT where professors discover his unrecognized genius for mathematics. We first learn of the young man's talent for numbers during the beginning of the film when Stellan Skarsgård's teacher challenges his students with a complex math problem that he tells them it took MIT's greatest minds two years to solve. The equation is posted on a blackboard in a hallway, where Damon's Will Hunting quickly solves it. Skarsgård is amazed by the elusive prodigy. Nine Academy Award nominations later, audiences realized there might be something to the whole Daffleck thing after all.

Video journalist Brady Haran, who runs a neat YouTube series called Numberphile (the title says it all), recently approached Dr. James Grime to talk about the equation in the film. Grime, who believes math is a "beautiful subject in a way that is closer to an art," states that the problem can be solved by the average math dummy (like this writer) and goes on to complete the same equation we see Will zip through in Van Sant's film. See how you can crack the code of "Homeomorphically Irreducible Trees" by watching this clip. Our brains are hurting just thinking about it. [via Vulture]

 

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