The Wolfgang Pauli Lectures are an annual lecture series that is devoted alternatingly to Physics, Mathematics and Biology. They are named after the great theoretical physicist and Nobel laureat Wolfgang Pauli, who was professor at ETH Zürich from 1928 until his death in 1958. The first Wolfgang Pauli Lectures were given in 1962 by Max Delbrück, and over the years there have been many eminent speakers, including a number of Nobel laureats.
The Wolfgang Pauli Lectures 2012 are dedicated to mathematics.
The "P vs. NP" problem, formulated by computer theorists in the 1970s, quickly became a central outstanding problem of science and mathematics. In this talk I will attempt to describe its mathematical, scientific and philosophical content. I will discuss i ts status, and the implications of its resolution on science and technology (making clear that the $1M prize on solving it pales in comparison with these implications).
No special background will be assumed.