Fermat’s Enigma ~ by Simon Singh

I read this years ago but my reading group selected it for April and because it had been so long I did it again.  I have it at home in paperback so I purchased a Kindle version – it’s not available on Audible.  (Although there is a free interview with SIngh there.)

Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem
by Simon Singh 1998
US (title Fermat’s Last Theorem) 315 pages
Rating – 9 / mathematics and history

It is just as good or better than I remembered and I’m glad I reread it.  Singh outlines the history leading up to Andrew Wiles who solved the problem (or provided a proof for a theorem) which had stumped mathematicians for over 300 years.  

Fermat had provided the simple little equation and said there was a solution but no space in the margin of his book to write it.  Most mathematicians say he was spoofing but considering Fermat’s strength as a mathematician I suspect he had an intuitive feeling that it was correct but he, with the mathematics of the 18th century, had no way to get there. Wiles, using the mathematics of the 20th century, had more tools and got there.  He did, however, spend 7 + years in isolation to complete his childhood dream. 

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1 Response to Fermat’s Enigma ~ by Simon Singh

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    Yes, I read this ages ago too. It was fascinating.


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