"I have discovered a truly marvellous proof, which this margin is too narrow to contain". With these words the 17th-century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat threw down the gauntlet to future generations. Over 350 years were to pass before a Englishman finally cracked the mystery in 1995. Andrew Wiles had dreamt of proving Fermat ever since he first read about the theorem as a boy of ten at his local library. Only after years of toil, frustration and disappointment came the breakthrough. This work tells the true story of how Fermat's Theorem was made to yield up its secrets.
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When Andrew Wiles of Princeton University announced a solution of 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 labored 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 star-, trauma-, and wacko-studded history of Fermat's last theorem. Fermat's Enigma contains some problems that offer a taste for the math, but it also includes limericks to give a feeling for the goofy side of mathematicians.From the Publisher:
"An excellent account of one of the most dramatic and moving events of the century."
--Sir Roger Penrose, New York Times Book Review
"It is hard to imagine a more gripping account of...this centuries-long drama of ingenious failures, crushed hopes, fatal duels, and suicides."
--Jim Holt, The Wall Street Journal
"Though Singh may not ask us to bring too much algebra to the table, he does expect us to appreciate a good detective story."
--Boston Sunday Globe
"The history of mathematics comes alive even for those who dread balancing their checkbooks."
"Singh captures the joys and frustrations of this quest for an extremely elusive proof...and builds to a truly engrossing climax. It's a mathematical page-turner."
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