- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Fourth Estate; New edition edition (7 May 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857026691
- ISBN-13: 978-1857026696
- Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 12.2 x 3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 692,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Fermat's Last Theorem Paperback – 7 May 1998
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More About the Author
When Cambridge mathematician Andrew Wiles announced a solution for Fermat's last theorem in 1993, it electrified the world of mathematics. After a flaw was discovered in the proof, Wiles had to work for another year--he had already laboured in solitude for seven years--to establish that he had solved the 350-year-old problem. Simon Singh's book is a lively, comprehensible explanation of Wiles's work and of the colourful history that has build up around Fermat's last theorem over the years. The book contains some problems that offer a taste for the maths, but it also includes limericks to give a feeling for the quirkier side of mathematicians. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“I was gripped by Simon Singh’s “Fermat’s Last Theorem”…Singh’s book puts across the romance of the discipline and the engaging wit and comradeship of the mathematical community.’ Independent
‘Unexpectedly gripping…The averagely numerate can catch a glimpse of the pure beauty of numbers without having to understand the calculations involved.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Far from being a dry textbook it reads like the chronicle of an obsessive love affair. It has the classic ingredients that Hollywood would recognise.’ Daily Mail
‘If you enjoyed Dava Sobel’s “Longitude” you will enjoy this.’ Evening Standard--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Written like a detective story where the answer is known, this book is easy to follow, and leads readers through a maze of ideas, concepts and subtleties that would be a disaster in the hands of a lesser writer. This is absorbing narrative, leading up to the lecture where Andrew Wiles presented his proof of the non-solution of the equation. However, the proof presented on 23rd June 1993 was the beginning of a nightmare for Wiles, as a serious logic error was subsequently discovered that took an all-consuming 15 months to rescue.
The story of how a very gifted mathematician devoted himself for seven secretive years to a question that others had given up on is only half the tale that Singh tells. It is a journey through some of the history of mathematics, with the solution to the amateur mathematician Fermat's problem being an accidental occurrence. Along the way there are very good insights into the differences between mathematical proofs and scientific proofs; the former must be indisputable, whereas scientific proofs are only ever probabilistically true, and do change as knowledge increases.Read more ›
In 1637 Pierre de Fermat, a French 'amateur' mathematician stated that there were no solutions to a pythagorean type expression using powers above the value of two. Tantalisingly he wrote in the margin that he had a 'marvellous demonstration' which the margin was too narrow to contain. This was to torment mathematicians for over three hundred years. Did Fermat have a proof? Could he possibly have had a proof? What was the proof?
Andrew wiles was a young boy when he encountered Fermat's riddle and decided there and then that he would be the one who would solve it. Singh takes us on this journey and we become embroiled in the riddle ourselves. The appendices demonstrate mathematical techniques so eloquently and succinctly that the reader suddenly thinks that he, the reader, must have immense, hitherto undiscovered mathematical talent. Not so. The talent is that of Simon Singh, a talent that kept me totally enthralled for several hours, untol the book was finished. I felt disappointed that it did not go on longer, but the story was told and the ending was sensational. Not to worry, I have just ordered 'The code book' and 'The big bang' both by Simon Singh, I know I will not be disappointed.
I admit I did already know some of the details given in this book, but the history and the description of the characters in the world of mathematics added an extra dimension (no pun intended!) and made it all the more fascinating. Names like Euler, Dirichlet, Cauchy, LaGrange ... before I read the book they had merely been names of equations, polynomials, boundary conditions and the like, but the author gave us some fascinating details of their lives, what type of people they were (I've gone off Cauchy now, and I so loved his polynomials) and even the interactions that went on among some of these famous names.
And I loved the description of Wiles's "Eureka" moment when he realises he's finally got the proof ... it must have been like solving the world's most difficult crossword clue!
I don't know whether to go straight back and read the whole thing again, or lend it to a friend and share the experience.
On reflection, my friends can buy their own copy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In terms of bringing a mathematical story to the general public the author does a reasonable job although some sections meander fairly tediously. Read morePublished 9 days ago by A. reader
Never my strong subject it has helped me see maths in an altogether new light
So good I gave copies as Christmas presents
Very interesting book, using the theorem as the basis for a discussion of maths historyPublished 1 month ago by jimmy
Really enjoyed this book, I have read the code book as well and both were great. I think many folks see maths and science as boring and uninspiring, for me this book makes real the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Brian
A great real life story of one man's desire to solve a great problem. The Maths was way above my head but it did not matter. A great read.Published 5 months ago by zen rockman
Wow, I didn't expect to be captivated by a book about Maths proofs, but this was a brilliant read, well written and fascinating. Highly recommended!Published 6 months ago by Mr. Christopher N. Parker
A very interesting and well told story. A fascinating journey through number theory. Highly recommended.Published 7 months ago by Shak224