Kenneth Appel dies, used computer on map question

DOVER, N.H. (AP) — Kenneth Appel, a mathematician who was the first to use a computer to prove a century-old major mathematical theorem, has died at age 80 in Dover, N.H.

The Tasker Funeral Home confirms that Appel, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, died April 19 in hospice care.

Appel was a longtime educator who chaired the University of New Hampshire mathematics department, retiring in 2003.

Before that, he was a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana. In 1976, he and Wolfgang Haken used 1,200 hours of calculations from an IBM computer to prove that a flat map can be colored with just four colors so that contiguous countries have different colors.

Proving the 100-year-old “Four-Color Conjecture” was considered a major intellectual accomplishment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s