Just recently I have finished reading Fermat’s Last Theorem: The Story Of A Riddle That Confounded The World’s Greatest Minds For 358 Years by Simon Singh. Therefor, I decided to write a short review about it.
I know about Fermat’s last theorem since I was around 12 years old. I was always so confused that something so easy to understand took more than 350 years to be proven. A couple of years later I have found out about the mathematician that finally has proven it, but when I wanted to read his proof I got completely lost. I was struck by the fact that a theorem so easy to understand has such an incredibly complicated proof.
This book was published when I was in high school and I always wanted to read it, but for some unknown reason it stayed there on my Book List for more than 10 years. I have picked the book at the beginning of 2017 and finished it around the end of February. It was not something hard to read and I believe it explains the concepts in a relaxed and easy way for everyone to understand.
First and one of the most important part of this book is the fact that you do not need a mathematical background to read it, but also it doesn’t loose its flavor if you have a strong maths background. By the end of the book, the author gets to modular equations, elliptical equations and, of course, Taniyama – Shimura conjecture. But I believe you do not need to have a background in this to understand it. The author does a great job at describing the general idea behind them, therefore making them easy to understand for everyone. Also, I consider that one doesn’t need to know everything about the concepts in order to appreciate and enjoy how Andrew Wiles found a method to prove the theorem using everything that he could lay his hand on.
I enjoyed the fact that the author decided to take a chronological view of the development of the theorem and its proof. The book covers around three centuries of mathematical development and devotion. He also includes great descriptions of the mathematicians who are connected (even tangential) to the theorem and its proof. I enjoyed finding out more about Euler, Dirichlet, Galois, Cauchy and many others. For those feminists out there, he also has a chapter about the women who got entangled in this story.
Lastly, I think that the way Simon Singh presents the problems Andrew Wiles had in the process is incredible. Even though I knew that he actually proved the theorem I was caught by the story and wanted to find out more about Andrew’s emotions and discoveries. One of my favorite part is the description of Andrew’s “Eureka” moment when he realised that he ACTUALLY accomplished his childhood dream.
In the end, I recommend this book to absolutely everyone. It is a great piece and Andrew Wiles is a wonderful example of devotion and hard work. The book made me work more on my dreams and never give up. Andrew worked 7 years at it and went through a lot, we shouldn’t give up on our dreams. Also check an old post of mine: Abel Prize and Fermat’s Last Theorem. Enjoy!
Hope you enjoyed this short post. I know I haven’t posted much in March, but I have been working for my free online course on Modern Mathematics and another future project, which I cannot say much yet. Feel free to comment bellow. Have a great day. You can find me on Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Twitter and Instagram. I will try to post there as often as possible.
Lots of love and don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!