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96 of 97 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 23 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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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mathematics is perfection, 10 Jun 2003
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
I was first introduced to this book by a friend and at first glance I felt it would be a typical math book that was written with the intent to keep others on the outside of the subjects fence. However as soon as I read the foreword I knew that this was going to be one of those books which I would just have to buy for my own personal collection.
The book written by Simon Singh, a physics graduate, who trys to (and sucessfully) writes it where possible without the mathmatical jargon and where it is required he breaks it down in a way that you don't have to of studied a-level mathematics to understand. I am currently taking a-level mathematics but I know of people who aren't and they enjoyed it just as muchif not more!
Singh writes about the history of maths leading up to Andrew Wiles' proof and does it with great credibility to subject. He constantly shows that maths is a subject that demands perfection which I felt was the fuel for Wiles' proof. I don't read a lot of books because I unfourtunately haven't got enough time but this one just flows and I promise you after picking it up you will of finished it within a week even if your like me who takes a long time to read a book, enjoy!
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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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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 30 Sep 2014
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
just as expected
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 17 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
Would recommend
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 23 Oct 2014
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
It's great!
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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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Fermat's Last Theorem
Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh (Hardcover - 15 May 1997)
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