362 pages, B/w photos
This is the extraordinary story of the solving of a puzzle that has confounded mathematicians since the 17th century. The solution of Fermat's Last Theorem is the most important mathematical development of the 20th century. In 1963, a schoolboy browsing in his local library stumbled across the world's greatest mathematical problem: Fermat's Last Theorem, a puzzle that every child can understand but which has baffled mathematicians for over 300 years. Aged just ten, Andrew Wiles dreamed that he would crack it. Wiles's lifelong obsession with a seemingly simple challenge set by a long-dead Frenchman is an emotional tale of sacrifice and extraordinary determination. In the end, he was forced to work in secrecy and isolation for seven years, harnessing all the power of modern mathematics to achieve his childhood dream. Many before him had tried and failed, including a 18-century philanderer who was killed in a duel, and an 18-century Frenchwoman who had to attend maths lectures at the Ecole Polytechnique disguised as a man. A remarkable story of human endeavour and intellectual brilliance over three centuries, Fermat's Last Theorem will fascinate both specialist and general readers.
"I was gripped by Simon Singh's Fermat's Last Theorem [...] Singh's book puts across the romance of the discipline and the engaging wit and comradeship of the mathematical community."
"Unexpectedly gripping [...] The averagely numerate can catch a glimpse of the pure beauty of numbers without having to understand the calculations involved."
- Sunday Telegraph
"Far from being a dry textbook it reads like the chronicle of an obsessive love affair. It has the classic ingredients that Hollywood would recognise."
- Daily Mail
"If you enjoyed Dava Sobel's Longitude you will enjoy this."
- Evening Standard
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Since 1991 Simon Singh has been writing, directing and producing for the BBC Science department. In the past he has produced the weekly magazine programme Tomorrow's World . He directed the Horizon episode about Andrew Wiles and his obsessive solving of Fermat's Last Theorem. He completed his PhD at Cambridge in 1990.