A team led by mathematician Thomas Hales has delivered a formal proof of the Kepler Conjecture, which is the definitive resolution of a problem that had gone unsolved for more than 300 years. The paper is now available online through Forum of Mathematics, Pi, an open access journal published by Cambridge University Press. This paper not only settles a centuries-old mathematical problem, but is also a major advance in computer verification of complex mathematical proofs.

The Kepler Conjecture was a famous problem in discrete geometry, which asked for the most efficient way to cram spheres into a given space. The answer, while not difficult to guess (it's exactly how oranges are stacked in a supermarket), had been remarkably difficult to prove. Hales and Ferguson originally announced a proof in 1998, but the solution was so long and complicated that a team of a dozen referees spent years working on checking it before giving up..

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