# Tunnell's theorem

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In number theory, Tunnell's theorem gives a partial resolution to the congruent number problem, and under the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture, a full resolution.

## Congruent number problem

The congruent number problem asks which positive integers can be the area of a right triangle with all three sides rational. Tunnell's theorem relates this to the number of integral solutions of a few fairly simple Diophantine equations.

## Theorem

For a given square-free integer n, define

{\begin{aligned}A_{n}&=\#\{(x,y,z)\in \mathbb {Z} ^{3}\mid n=2x^{2}+y^{2}+32z^{2}\},\\B_{n}&=\#\{(x,y,z)\in \mathbb {Z} ^{3}\mid n=2x^{2}+y^{2}+8z^{2}\},\\C_{n}&=\#\{(x,y,z)\in \mathbb {Z} ^{3}\mid n=8x^{2}+2y^{2}+64z^{2}\},\\D_{n}&=\#\{(x,y,z)\in \mathbb {Z} ^{3}\mid n=8x^{2}+2y^{2}+16z^{2}\}.\end{aligned}} Tunnell's theorem states that supposing n is a congruent number, if n is odd then 2An = Bn and if n is even then 2Cn = Dn. Conversely, if the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture holds true for elliptic curves of the form $y^{2}=x^{3}-n^{2}x$ , these equalities are sufficient to conclude that n is a congruent number.

## History

The theorem is named for Jerrold B. Tunnell, a number theorist at Rutgers University, who proved it in Tunnell (1983).

## Importance

The importance of Tunnell's theorem is that the criterion it gives is testable by a finite calculation. For instance, for a given n, the numbers An,Bn,Cn,Dn can be calculated by exhaustively searching through x,y,z in the range $-{\sqrt {n}},\ldots ,{\sqrt {n}}$ .