More from Intel STS: So, for $1 million dollars!!!! Does P = NP?

Yes, there is a $1 million dollar award for the person who can answer one of the most important open questions in computer science and mathematics – does P = NP? Louis Wasserman, a senior from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland explored this question through research. And while he hasn’t fully conquered the $1 million question, he is one of 40 finalists at the annual Intel Science Talent Search competing for a $100,000 college scholarship.

Here is a video of Louis describing his project – and the pursuit of the $1 million dollars – to a group of grade school children. These kids inspire me – I hope just a tiny bit of their brilliance rubs off on me before things wrap up tomorrow evening. More on Louis – he produced the first exact characterization of P in terms of monotone circuits, a class of problems that can be solved in polynomial time by a computer. So by suggesting a possible solution for NP, we may be able to answer questions such as “Is there a possibility of efficiently breaking through the encryption security that protects our credit cards during Internet purchases?” (But what my husband really wants to know if there is a possibility of efficiently preventing me from making any credit card purchases on the Internet…Ed)