Homework Assignment
Posted by Bal Vallah on November 24, 1998 at 07:12:14:

A student arrives late to math class and finds two problems written on the chalkboard. Assuming
they're homework problems, he jots them down in his notebook and works on the equations over the next
few days before turning his solutions in to the instructor.

Several weeks later, the professor turns up at the student's door with the student's work written up
for publication. The two problems were not a homework assignment; they were problems previously
thought to be unsolvable that the instructor had used as examples in his lecture that day.

The story detailed above is a TRUE one! George B. Dantzig, a mathematician at Stanford University,
arrived late for a statistics class one day when he was a graduate student at the University of
California, Berkeley. He found two problems written on the board and solved them as a homework
assignment, not knowing they were examples of "unsolvable" statistics problems.

The story is recounted in an interview with Dantzig that appeared in the September 1986 issue of the
College Mathematics Journal.

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