'Impossible' proof of 2,000-year-old Pythagorean theorem potentially found by students

High schoolers have presented their proof of the Pythagorean theorem using trigonometry — a feat mathematicians thought was impossible.
Kavita Verma
Pythagorean theorem concept image
Pythagorean theorem concept image


Two high school seniors from St. Mary's Academy in New Orleans have made an impressive mathematical discovery that amazed mathematicians. Calcea Johnson and Ne'Kiya Jackson presented their findings on the Pythagorean theorem using trigonometry at the American Mathematical Society's Spring Southeastern Sectional Meeting. 

While mathematicians thought that proving the theorem with trigonometry would always include some hidden expression of the theorem itself, the high school seniors claim to have proved the theorem without using the theorem itself. The discovery is an impressive finding and is now being scrutinized by mathematicians. The AMS has encouraged high schoolers to submit their results to a scientific journal.

A feat experts couldn't achieve

The Pythagorean theorem has been around for over 2,000 years, and it's considered one of the most fundamental theorems in mathematics. The theorem is the basis for trigonometry, an essential part of many science, engineering, and mathematics branches. Many mathematicians have tried to find proof of the Pythagorean theorem using trigonometry, but until now, they've all failed due to the problem of circular reasoning.

Calcea Johnson and Ne'Kiya Jackson have solved this problem with their unique approach to the proof. They used the Law of Sines, a fundamental result in trigonometry, to prove the Pythagorean theorem without relying on circular reasoning. The evidence is a breakthrough in mathematics, potentially changing how trigonometry and the Pythagorean theorem are taught in schools.

The AMS meeting allowed Johnson and Jackson to present their findings to the mathematics community. The AMS is one of the most prestigious organizations in mathematics, and presenting at their conference is a significant achievement for any mathematician. The fact that two high school seniors could show their proof is even more impressive.

A significant contribution to mathematics?

The AMS encouraged the students to submit their work to a peer-reviewed journal after their presentation. This is a critical step in verifying their proof and making it part of the mathematical literature. If the evidence is accepted, it will be a significant contribution to mathematics, and it could inspire future generations of mathematicians.

In a statement, Catherine Roberts, executive director at AMS, said, "We celebrate these early career mathematicians for sharing their work with the wider mathematics community, and we encourage them to continue their studies in mathematics." The AMS is committed to supporting young mathematicians and promoting diversity in the field.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board