Around 1637, the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat wrote that he had found a way to prove a seemingly simple statement: while many square numbers can be broken down into the sum of two other squares - for example, 25 (five squared) equals nine (three squared) plus 16 (four squared) - the same can never be done for cubes or any higher powers. This book provides an account of how Fermat's solution was lost, the consequent struggle by mathematicians to solve this scientific mystery and how the solution was finally found in the 1990s.
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"It employs a staggering range of abstract devices, which Mr. Aczel is a dab hand at explaining: Abelian varieties, Galois representations, automorphic forms, and on and on."From the Publisher:
The mathematicians' "Longitude"!
"For more than three centuries, Fermat's Last Theorem was the most famous unsolved problem in mathematics; here's the story of how it was solved. ...An excellent short history of mathematics, viewed through the lens of one of its great problems -- and achievements." -- "Kirkus Reviews" Slim in size but packed with information on the history and cultures that led, over 2000 years, first to Fermat's Last Theorem and then to its proof just a few years ago.
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