Simon Singh: Fermat's Last Theorem

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Pierre de Fermat was a skilled amateur mathematician in the 17th century, whose most important legacy was a sentence written on a margin: "Cuius rei demonstrationem mirabilem sane detexi hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet," "I have invented a miraculous proof but there's not enough room in the margins for it".

What Fermat claims to have proven is that xn + yn = zn is false with all integers if n is more than two (if n is two, that is Pythagoras's Theorem and obviously true with some integers). Too bad nobody was able to repeat Fermat's proof of the theorem in 350 years, until Andrew Wiles proved it in 1995 after years of hard work.

Singh's book covers the basic history of mathematics and describes all sorts of attempts to prove Fermat's theorem, particularly Andrew Wiles' attempts. The mathematics involved are very difficult, so Singh skips most of that. The result is an entertaining book that is interesting to read even if you're not a mathematician. Singh is a skilled author of popular science books and this one is no exception. [ Fermat's Last Theorem at ]Fermat's Last Theorem at LibraryThing ]

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