Fermat's Enigma

Fermat's Enigma

The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem

Book - 1998
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xn + yn = zn, where n represents 3, 4, 5, ...no solution "I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain." With these words, 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; proving it, however, became the Holy Grail of mathematics, baffling its finest minds for more than 350 years. In Fermat's Enigma--based on the author's award-winning documentary film, which aired on PBS's "Nova"--Simon Singh tells the astonishingly entertaining story of the pursuit of that grail, and the lives that were devoted to, sacrificed for, and saved by it. Here is a mesmerizing tale of heartbreak and mastery that will forever change your feelings about mathematics.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1998
Copyright Date: ©1997
ISBN: 9780385493628
Branch Call Number: Science & Nature 512.74 Sin
Additional Contributors: Lynch, John


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Jun 19, 2017

You do not need to know math to enjoy this book. You like to read a good story about how a screamingly trivial math problem keeps driving mathematicians crazy over centuries trying to demonstrate if said problem is true or not? Then read this book.
The author has an engaging way to describe the math involved in the demonstration of Fermat's last theorem. I enjoyed the description of mathematicians, over centuries, getting a little closer to the demonstration, close but not to the final line.
I enjoyed this book, it is a great story of work and some personal drama behind the demonstration of a mathematical theorem eluding the most brilliant math minds trying to demonstrate it.

VaughanPLKasey Nov 09, 2016

I like to describe this book as the biography of a mathematical problem, and of the books listed here, it’s lightest on the actual math. Fermat’s Last Theorem is a seemingly straight-forward claim about a simple formula. The prominent 17th century mathematician Pierre de Fermat claimed in the margins of one of his notebooks to have proven the claim, but never actually wrote the proof down anywhere. Mathematicians tried for generations to find the proof; many people managed to contribute pieces of the puzzle, but the full proof didn’t come together until 1994, almost four centuries after Fermat’s original claim.

Singh’s book is a great story about collaboration, tenacity, and ingenuity, with just a touch of mystery. It brings the math world to life in a way that illustrates its appeal to those who choose to dedicate their life to the field, without requiring the reader to get their own advanced math degree.


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