"Fermat's Last Therom"

Essay by Frog9091College, Undergraduate April 2003

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Fermat's Last Theorem

Pierre de Fermat was one of the most famous number theorists in history, but he was not a mathematician. He was a lawyer who served at the highest level of the criminal court in Toulouse ( Mahoney 3). Yet this amateur came up with an equation that stumped mathematicians for over 350 years after he scribbled it down as a note. He stated

that the equation

has no non-zero integer solutions for x, y, and z when n > 2. As simple as this concept seems, it is far from easy to prove. It took several of the best minds to slowly put the pieces of the proof together.

Before he came up with this theorem, Fermat attended The University of Toulouse. It wasn't until he moved to Bordeau in the late 1920's that he began his first serious research into mathematics. This was in 1629 when he did a restoration of Apollonius's Plane loci and produced important works on maxima and minima.

Fermat then went to Orleans, where he earned a degree in civil law( O'Connor 1). It was in 1631, when Fermat was a lawyer and a government official that he was entitled to change his name to Pierre de Fermat rather than just Pierre Fermat. By this time he had moved back to his home town of Toulouse, this time to stay through he did do some work in neighboring cities ( O'Connor 1). He climbed all the way to the top in 1652 when he was promoted to the highest level of the criminal court. The next year though, he came down

Hall 2

with the plague and was wrongfully reported as being dead, but the matter was soon corrected ( O'Connor 2).

Among Fermat's earlier works were his Method for determining...