Andrew Wiles: Obsession, Proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem

Fermat’s Last Theorem states that no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than two. This theorem was first conjectured by Pierre de Fermat in 1637, and it remained unsolved for over three hundred years. Andrew Wiles proved the theorem in 1994.

What’s fascinating is how long Andrew Wiles spent working on this theorem (answer: seven years). In a great interview with NOVA, Andrew Wiles explains his obsession:

I used to come up to my study, and start trying to find patterns. I tried doing calculations which explain some little piece of mathematics. I tried to fit it in with some previous broad conceptual understanding of some part of mathematics that would clarify the particular problem I was thinking about. Sometimes that would involve going and looking it up in a book to see how it’s done there. Sometimes it was a question of modifying things a bit, doing a little extra calculation. And sometimes I realized that nothing that had ever been done before was any use at all. Then I just had to find something completely new; it’s a mystery where that comes from. I carried this problem around in my head basically the whole time. I would wake up with it first thing in the morning, I would be thinking about it all day, and I would be thinking about it when I went to sleep. Without distraction, I would have the same thing going round and round in my mind.

Have your ever been consumed by anything on this scale?


4 thoughts on “Andrew Wiles: Obsession, Proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem

  1. To answer the question directly, to fully and entirely consolidate Aristotle’s theory of politics and justice with modern conceptions of freedom and democracy. It’s been tried, but not without unanswerable objections. It’s also something I know is possible- and because questions of social science cannot have explicitly correct or incorrect questions answers I won’t worry about this consuming me for seven years.

  2. Andrew Wiles did a great job. But now, we must look for simpler proofs. Read At least.:A simple and short analytical proof of Fermat’s last theorem,CNMSEM, Canadian journal on computing in mathematics,natural sciences, engineering and medicine,Vol.2,No.3,March 2011,pg.57-63

  3. When I began to work on Fermat’s last theorem there was no simple proofs of Fermat’s last theorem for n=3 even. Even of n=4 is one or two. First I designed simple proofs for these two exponents. Then the (general proof) the proof of the theorem for all odd prime exponents was designed. Pl.read “New simple analytical proofs of Fermat’s last theorem for n=3′ Canadian journal on Computing in mathematics,Natural sciences,Engineering and medicine(CMNSEM), Vol.1,No.3.April 2010,pp.64-70, Simple analytical proofs of three Fermat’s theorems,CMNSEM Vol.2,No.3,March(2011)pp 50-56 Any one can challenge.Pl.note I have made trivial typing mistakes in my hurry is sending final versions of these two papers.

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