Saturday, 4 July 2009

Book Choice #14:

Simon Singh: Fermat's Last Theorem

Singh does an excellent job of explaining the complex mathematics behind a seemingly straight-foward theorem. This theorem however, has defied the world's greatest mathematicians for 350 years until Andrew Wiles finally found definitive proof after years of obsessional work.

The book not only explains the workings behind Wiles' proof, but gives the reader a broad history of mathematics from the Greeks onwards. It's rather bizarre just how many great mathematicians ended their lives tragically.

Despite enjoying the book, the obvious point that Fermat could not possibly have used the same methods when claiming his proof is only touched upon briefly towards the end. Perhaps the historian in me yearned for more research into whether Fermat really did have proof as he claimed.

BBC's Horizon documentary on the subject can be watched here:

No comments: