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Fermat's Last Theorem: The Story Of A Riddle That Confounded The World's Greatest Minds For 358 Years Paperback – 6 May 2002
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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 the Hardcover edition.
‘If you enjoyed Dava Sobel’s “Longitude” you will enjoy this.’ Evening Standard
‘This is probably the best popular account of a scientific topic I have ever read.’ Irish Times
‘Reads like the chronicle of an obsessive love affair. It has the classic ingredients that Hollywood would recognise.’ Daily Mail
‘To read it is to realise that there is a world of beauty and intellectual challenge that is denied to 99.9 per cent of us who are not high-level mathematicians.’ The Times
‘This tale has all the elements of a most exciting story: an impenetrable riddle; the ambition and frustration of generations of hopefuls; and the genius who worked for years in secrecy to realise his childhood dream.’ ExpressSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
A great feature of the book is the appendix. They cover a great range of interesting mathematics like induction which will be appealing to anyone with an interest in maths.
This is certainly a leisurely read and will be understandable by anyone, even without a maths education.
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.
Andrew Wiles read about this theorem when he was barely ten year old in a library while flipping through one of E.T. Bell's book. The rest as we know is history because this particular moment became a turning point in young Wiles life. This would force him to take a career in mathematics and lead a rigorous life in mathematics. Later he would be shutting and isolating himself from the outside world so that he could devote his complete attention to the task at hand - to solve this 17th century conjecture devised by the great Pierre Fermat. History saw this theorem remaining unsolved for 350 years, which eluded mathematicians like Euler, Sophie Germain, Lame, Kummer, Cauchy et al. but who nevertheless had their own bit of contribution to the proof in particular and mathematics in general.
Andrew Wiles mathematical proof of the century was not without its share of pitfalls. After announcing the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in June 1993 with much fanfare and publicity, Wiles didn't have the wildest idea about what was in store for him... something which will almost make him accept defeat...
Though Prof. Wiles succeeded in his endeavor, his proof was based on post-Fermat mathematical ideas like the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture, Galois group theory, Iwasawa theory and the Kolyvagin-Flach method. Fermat on the other hand had claimed that he possessed the proof for the theorem which obviously was based on mathematics of his time...
A great read. Recommended for one and all.
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