Birth of Pierre de Fermat

The French mathematician was born on August 17th, 1601.

Pierre de Fermat

Fermat wrote his Last Theorem, the Holy Grail of higher mathematics, in the margin of his copy of a text by a Greek mathematician of the third century AD, Diophantus, next to a discussion about splitting a squared number into two squares. ‘It is impossible,’ he wrote, ‘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.’ Annoyingly and characteristically, he added that he had discovered ‘a wonderful proof’ of this proposition, but the margin was not big enough for him to write it in.

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