Pierre De Fermat

Background

Fermat.jpg

Pierre de Fermat was born in Beaumont-de-Lomagne, France on August 17, 1601. He was a lawyer by profession and only a part-time mathematician. He was born into a family of leather merchants. He lead a very secretive and isolated life, only corresponding with two mathematicians: Blaise Pascal and Marin Mersenne. Eventually, he married and had 5 children. However, not much is known about his life. (Wikipedia)

Relevance to Mathematics

Fermat was most famous for developing his ‘Last Theorem’. This states that a number to the exponent n cannot be the sum of two other numbers to the same power. ”It is impossible, for a cube to be written as the sum of two cubes or a fourth power to be written as the sum of two fourth powers or, in general, for any number which is a power greater than the second to be written as the sum of two like powers.” (Birth of Fermat) This was one of the greatest problems in mathematics for many years. He is also seen as the father of number theory and founded the theory of probability with Blaise Pascal.

Final Years

Fermat was odd in that he would not release his proofs for his mathematical problems. When he wrote his Last Theorem, it is not known if he proved it or not. His last theorem took more than 300 years to prove, when it was then proven by Andrew Wiles in 1995. It was then determined that his Wiles’ proof was incorrect, so it was revised and determined to be correct.( Fermat's last theorem)

Equation

(1)
\begin{equation} x^n + y^n = z^n \end{equation}

Only when n<2

Bibliography

Cavendish, Richard. "Birth of Pierre de Fermat: August 17th, 1601." History Today 51(2001) 23 Feb 2008 <http://elibrary.bigchalk.com/libweb/curriculumca/do/document?set=search&groupid=1&requestid=lib_canada&resultid=12&edition=&ts=DAF74D0E9D7E76723FD5860785E520F0_1203984197863&start=1&urn=urn%3Abigchalk%3AUS%3BBCLib%3Bdocument%3B46297853>.

"Pierre de Fermat." Wikipedia. 25 Feb 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat>.

"Fermat's last theorem." Wikipedia. 25 Feb 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_last_theorem>.

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