Fermat's Enigma: Epic Quest To Solve The Worlds Greatest Mathematical Problem

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9780140268690: Fermat's Enigma: Epic Quest To Solve The Worlds Greatest Mathematical Problem

"I have discovered a truly marvelous proof, which this margin is too narrow to contain."

With these tantalizing word, the seventeenth-century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat threw down the gauntlet to future generations. What came to be known as Fermat's Last Theorem looked simple, yet the finest mathematical minds would be baffled for more than three and half centuries. Fermat's Last Theorem became the Holy Grail of mathematics. Whole and colourful lives were devoted to, and even sacrificed, to finding a solution.

Then, came Princeton Professor Andrew Wiles, who had dreamed of proving Fermat ever since he first read of it as a boy of ten in his local library. In 1993, some 356 years after Fermat's challenge, and after seven years of working in isolation and secrecy, Wiles stunned the world by announcing a proof-though his own journey would be far from over. Fermat's Enigma is the story of the epic quest to solve the greatest math problem of all time. It is a human drama of high dreams, intellectual brilliance, and extraordinary determination.

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Review:

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 of 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."
--Publishers Weekly

"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."
--Library Journal

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