The great mathematician, one of the founders of the analytical geometry, mathematical analysis, theory of probability and theory of numbers was born in 1601 into a family of a wealthy merchant a math teacher. A fellow countryman of d’Artagnan, Fermat, of Gascony, had a legal training, survived the plague, and did mathematics solely in his leisure time. But for all his undeniable merits, Fermat would have stayed quiet at the back of our minds if not for his great theorem. He wrote it down in a hurry in the margin of Diophantus’s Arithmetica. The margin was too narrow to contain the proof. For 350 odd years, the best minds of the planet have been trying to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. Some, like Leonard Euler, proved it but for particular cases. Others bluffed. In 1927, just before his flight the renowned mathematician David Hilbert cabled the topic of his lecture at Lorenz Institute: “Proof of Fermat’s Theorem.” But upon arrival, he delivered a completely different lecture. And if the plane crashed, everyone would have been sure that he proved Fermat’s Theorem. The French Academy was so desperate that no longer reviewed any proofs, while the academician Landau had a pile of forms on the table that began with: “I have read your proof of Fermat’s Theorem...” Below, Landau wrote down the page number where he had found the first error and put his signature. And, finally, the great puzzle was solved in 1995 – by Andrew John Wiles, Head of the Department for Mathematics at Princeton University. Malicious gossip has it that Wiles’s proof is no good as there was no such mathematical apparatus during Fermat’s lifetime. But this does not keep the world from singing and dancing around in his honor. We have to understand “Sing and Dance Around” quite literally because in 2000 Joshua Rosenblum produced his musical Fermat’s Last Tango. The main characters are Fermat and Wiles and also X, Y and Z.
On August 17, 1601, Pierre de Fermat was born