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95 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the gold standard for those that followed.
In or around 1637, Pierre de Fermat wrote in the margin of a maths book notes describing what became known as Fermatean Triples. He claimed to have found an equation that was hard to solve. "I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain". That one sentence was to tease mathematicians for centuries. The proposition,...
Published on 6 Nov 2005 by Mr P R Morgan

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3.0 out of 5 stars good reading, little math
This book is well written and reads like a novel. That's the positive part. On the other hand it is full of irrelevant stories that have nothing to do with the topic. Also the author must think his readers are idiots. After all you must at least have some interest in mathematics if you want to read a book about Fermat's last theorem. It's not necessary to explain...
Published 21 months ago by E. Soetens


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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Going against the grain here..., 27 Sep 2007
By 
Alan Simpson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
But I've got to say that I didn't really enjoy this book. There were areas that I thought should have been explored and explained more thoroughly, while some parts just got too much coverage.

The two Japanese chaps were worthy of far greater discussion for me, given the obvious differences between them and the rest of the mathematical community of the day, and Wiles himself was painted with very broad brush strokes by the author.

The bit between the problem with the original proof and its rectification was explained in too much detail given that we all knew that far into the book that it would work out in the end.

I was expecting a surprise and a big twist at the end. And all I got was a lengthy revised proof! I agree that it is highly unlikely, if not almost impossible that Fermat had a proof all those years ago. I was expecting Wiles to find, having been the long way round, that there was a massive simplification possible, and for him to arrive at a direct route to the proof that would have been open to Fermat without going round the block for 300 years.

Then again, it is a good subject with a great story, one that deserves its place on the book stands, even if it didn't really light me up in the way some of it was handled.

But I realise I'm in a minority on this view, and am not knocking anyone else's opinion. 5 stars is in the eye of the beholder!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short on maths though well written, 21 Oct 2013
By 
E. Vynckier - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
Simon Singh undoubtedly has a skilled pen, and as such I feel the book is worth reading.

However it could have delved deeper into some of the maths, such as the early discoveries of proofs of the equation for n=4 (no solutions - due to Fermat himself) and n=3 (no solutions either - Euler), which require high school mathematics mostly, and the proofs for many primes (due to Kummer, showing no solutions for many primes, and undecided for some primes).

The book also over-emphasizes the role of the non-entity Bertrand Russell in the development of maths, and over-stresses the role of Alan Turing (who had really nothing whatsoever to do with Fermat's theorem). A typical British belly-staring contest.

It is also terribly short on Fermat's other work on numbers, which would have been a nice historic perspective on this remarkable, although overrated mathematician, and on Pythagoros (for n=2), where it fails to list the well-known algorithm to recover ALL solutions. The book just indicates a few sample solutions for n=2 in an appendix, but by no means all. The algorithm to recover all solutions to n=2 is standard in all good books and again, requires high school mathematics only, so it could have been appended.

There is also a lot of story-telling on Evariste Galois, but just about nothing on his mathematics. Therefore there is really nothing of any consequence on Andrew Wiles' actual work.

I feel Simon Singh could have put more mathematics in notes or in Appendices and that would have been interesting and useful to the mathematically trained readers - which will make up the bulk of the readers of this sort of book. A missed opportunity here.

However, on the whole, Simon Singh writes well, and therefore 3 stars. Despite my comments, I intend to read Singh's book on cryptography, although without too much expectation on the mathematical front.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 8 Mar 2011
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
Brilliant book, one had I read before but bought to have my own copy to read again and again! Very approachable, whether you have a mathematical background or not. Thoroughly recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 18 Jan 2009
By 
R. Leal (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
As everybody knows the actual proof for Fermat's Last Theroem is so complex and involves so much modern mathematics that even a mathematician would have to spend some good time to fully understand it. The book is anything but complicated though. All the merits to Simon Singh for clearing up the concepts involved and explaining it all in such an interesting way that even the reader with no mathematical background can grasp a good bit of the mathematics involved. Besides, the many stories related to Fermat's last theorem are worthy reading on their own right. This is as good as non-fiction can get.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful path down mathematical lane, 7 April 2006
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
If all secondary teachers taught maths like Simon Singh writes I think everyone will be mathematician! I used maths a lot in my work but from an engineering perspective and while reading my PhD I used to hate the time I did not brush on my maths! Wished I read this book at an early stage! It just simply makes you fall in love with maths again!
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, well written, 29 April 2006
By 
G. Thulbourn (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
A well written back about Fermat's last theorem. Covers lots of background; in fact, possibly a little too much background. Has some interesting examples for the user. I think it is a little lacking on personal side of the people involved in the solution of the problem; and the 'looking forward' section was disappointing, but generally very interesting, engaging and straightforward.

If you're a scientist/engineer/etc. you'll enjoy this book; otherwise you might find it a bit heavy going.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising...but disappointing in the end, 28 Oct 2008
By 
Massimo Lavagnini (Milan, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
The book looks like the author is just postponing the end of the story just repeating and repeating the same ideas. The part of the proof and the attempts to correct the proof are quite disappointing because they are too much redundant. Moreover Singh is sliding some e-mails which don't add anything to the story and are quite "impenetrable". I do not like this way of writing. The author pretends not to use math symbology and math concepts beyond very basic ones, and then he lets go concepts like Hecke algebra, Euler system, "quasi-automorphic representations", i.e. without giving any clue about what they mean.
I think it leaves too much maths unexplained (and in a book about a math conundrum you understand it is a big problem!); I would have loved to see the same ingenuity Derbyshire put in his wonderful "Prime Obsession".
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9 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant mathematical drama, 11 April 2002
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
Be prepared to leave this world and enter another. Besides finding very interesting historical and easy to follow mathematical facts (with some interesting easy to follow proofs at the end of the book) you may well find yourself experiencing strong emotions (what may surprise you if you are a cold mathematician). Fermat's last theorem states that for every n \in {3,4,...} there are no x,y,z \in N={1,2,...} such that x^n + y^n = z^n. Even the theorem is a statement that every child can now understand the greatest mathematical minds failed to prove it for 250 years. "I have found a simple and yet brilliant proof, which this margin is too small to show." Is this statement of Pierre de Fermat true or not is still a mystery. Wiles' proof is so complex and requires so much of the mathematical knowledge in the field that only a few mathematicians in the world have a privilege to follow it and understand it. After you read this book you will feel differently. Congratulations to Simon Singh, Andrew Wiles and all the people contributed to Fermat's Last Theorem. (\in = is element of, x^n = x to the power of n) QED
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great..., 6 Sep 2007
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
There is one thing I am almost absolutely certain about: Fermat NEVER had any proof for his so-called last theorem. It is possible that he thought he had a proof, but there is no way that he had a rigorous proof by today's standards. If you asked all the world's professional mathematicans today whether they believed it, I doubt you would find a single one who does. Despite of this Singh (for some kind of dramatic effect I guess) keeps pretending that it is generally considered that Fermat really had a valid proof. I find this so ludicrous that it almost destroys the pleasure of reading the book, which is otherwise well written and engaging.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 15 Feb 2010
Too many general points and imprecisions when it comes to historical facts, could have been better if only limited to science sake.
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Fermat's Last Theorem
Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh (Paperback - 5 Jun 2002)
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