THE Edinburgh University mathematician who claims to have solved one of the oldest and most difficult conundrums in mathematics is set to hit back at his critics who have doubted his claims.

Sir Michael Atiyah, a former president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society itself, has said he will provide proof that he has solved the puzzle of the Riemann Hypothesis that has baffled mathematicians for 160 years since it was first put forward by the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann.

Son of a Scottish mother, Jean nee Levens, Atiyah, 89, is an honorary fellow of Edinburgh who is currently in Germany. He told The National he would provide proof of his assertion and “dispose of the doubters” who have emerged after he made his claim.

At stake is $1 million, the prize offered by the Clay Mathematical Institute for anyone solving the Riemann Hypothesis which states that the distribution of prime numbers is not random, but it follows a pattern described by the equation Riemann zeta function.

Mathematicians have checked the first ten trillion solutions but without finding proof that prime numbers follow a pattern.

Earlier this week Atiyah revealed what he called his “radically new approach” that he believes solves the Riemann challenge. He described it as a “simple proof” that builds on the insights of two other famous mathematicians, John von Neumann and Friedrich Hirzebruch.

“Solve the Riemann hypothesis and you become famous. If you are famous already, you become infamous,” he said.

“Nobody believes any proof of the Riemann hypothesis because it is so difficult. Nobody has proved it, so why should anybody prove it now? Unless, of course, you have a totally new idea.”

Atiyah is a multi-award winner, having won the prestigious Fields Medal and the Abel Prize. He has written numerous books and has been quoted many times as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Mathematics.

In order to win the $1m prize, Professor Atiyah’s work must be peer reviewed and then published. His claim has already been disputed. Jorgen Veisdal, an economist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim who has previously studied the Riemann hypothesis told a magazine of his doubts.

He said: “What he showed in the presentation is very unlikely to be anything like a proof of the Riemann hypothesis as we know it. It is simply too vague and unspecific.”

In an earlier interview Atiyah

said: “People will complain and grumble, but that’s because

they’re resistant to the idea that an old man might have come up with an entirely new method.”