Tijdeman's theorem

In number theory, Tijdeman's theorem states that there are at most a finite number of consecutive powers. Stated another way, the set of solutions in integers x, y, n, m of the exponential diophantine equation

ym = xn + 1,

for exponents n and m greater than one, is finite.

The theorem was proven by Dutch number theorist Robert Tijdeman in 1976, and provided a strong impetus towards the eventual proof of Catalan's conjecture by Preda Mih─âilescu. Mih─âilescu's theorem states that there is only one member to the set of consecutive power pairs, namely 9=8+1.

That the powers are consecutive is essential to Tijdeman's proof; if we replace a difference of one by any other difference k and ask for the number of solutions of

ym = xn + k

with n and m greater than one we have an unsolved problem. It is conjectured that this set also will be finite; its finiteness would follow, for instance, from the abc conjecture.


* Robert Tijdeman, On the equation of Catalan, Acta Arithmetica 29 (1976), pp. 197-209

Number Theory

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