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Fermat's Enigma Paperback – Sep 14 1998


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Fermat's Enigma + The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography + Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (Sept. 14 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140268693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140268690
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 12.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Kapoor on June 11 2002
Format: Paperback
Singh and Lynch have successfully presented one of the most abstract subjects in a simple to understand language. For those who put down a Maths book by looking at the complex equations: Fear Not, this one does not go too deep into equations and relies more on plain English to convey the point. I think that Appendixes could have been a bit more descriptive. Overall it was a fun read. I highly recommend this one for Mathematics appetite of Not-So-Mathematical.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Walter Chang on April 1 2000
Format: Hardcover
Pierre de Fermat, a seventeenth century French mathematician, challenged his colleagues and perhaps future generations of mathematicians to prove the following formula: a^n + b^n = c^n will be false for n > 2. Fermat wrote in the margins of his notebook that he had proven the assertion, but he did not outline it.
Singh's book chronicles the development of mathematics from ancient Greece to the 1990s.
Singh begins with a discussion of Pythagoras and his famous theorem for calculating right triangles. It is the Pythagorean formula that is the basis for Fermat's equation.
Singh then discusses the many famous mathematicians that had attempted to reproduce Fermat's proof. Although they were able to prove the formula's validity for specific values of n, no one had succeeded in proving it for infinite values of n. Without this proof of universality, there had existed the possibility that some value will disprove Fermat's assertion.
Singh then focuses his attention on Andrew Wiles, the man who would succeed where others had failed. After studying the futile attempts of his predecessors, Wiles decides to employ twentieth century mathematics. With developments from other colleagues in other areas of mathematics, Wiles embarks on a personal and secretive mission to resolve this enduring problem and a contemporary mathematical challenge.
Fermat's Enigma is a nontechnical exploration of the mathematics and mathematicians from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. It requires knowledge of only high school mathematics.
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By G. Poirier TOP 50 REVIEWER on Dec 4 2013
Format: Paperback
I could not put this book down! In clear, lively, captivating prose the author recounts the story of Fermat's Last Theorem and its elusive mathematical proof. The period covered is essentially from the days of Fermat until the theorem's proof by Andrew Wiles in the mid 1990s. Along the way, the reader is treated to the various valiant efforts by brilliant mathematicians through the centuries towards establishing such a solid proof - all in vain before Dr. Wiles. The ups and downs in the history of this seemingly intangible proof are particularly well illustrated.

Throughout the book, the reader is exposed to various mathematical objects that mostly form part of number theory, as well as mathematical techniques that have been developed over time. Because the mathematics is so masterfully described, this book should be accessible to a wide audience.

This amazing book should appeal especially to mathematics/science enthusiasts but any interested general reader could follow it quite easily and enjoy it tremendously.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Random Joys on May 28 2002
Format: Paperback
I read Singh's FERMAT'S ENIGMA after reading Singh's CODE BOOK. Unfortunately, the latter is by far the better book. Although the CODE BOOK manages to cover both the personal and the quantitative side of the recent revolutions in cryptography, FERMAT'S ENIGMA does not attempt to break into the actual mathematical proofs at all. The result feels like one of those NBC human interest stories that take up airtime from the Olympic Games. The essence is in the math, but we hear instead about the innovators' daily lives.
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Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable and engrossing human story about the search for the proof to the age old Fermat's last theorem. A story which tells the tale of one man's unflinching determination and single minded devotion to the cause of this proof. The events which unfold and the riveting account of Andrew Wiles journey to glory are told in this gripping tale by Simon Singh. Singh's master storytelling abilities are very well exemplified and will be appreciated by one and all. Those not inclined mathematically will also gain insights and concepts of mathematics and also get a peek at the lives of the mathematicians who are featured in this book.
Andrew Wiles read about this theorem when he was barely ten year old in a library while flipping through one of E.T. Bell's book. The rest as we know is history because this particular moment became a turning point in young Wiles life. This would force him to take a career in mathematics and lead a rigorous life in mathematics. Later he would be shutting and isolating himself from the outside world so that he could devote his complete attention to the task at hand - to solve this 17th century conjecture devised by the great Pierre Fermat. History saw this theorem remaining unsolved for 350 years, which eluded mathematicians like Euler, Sophie Germain, Lame, Kummer, Cauchy et al. but who nevertheless had their own bit of contribution to the proof in particular and mathematics in general.
Andrew Wiles mathematical proof of the century was not without its share of pitfalls. After announcing the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in June 1993 with much fanfare and publicity, Wiles didn't have the wildest idea about what was in store for him... something which will almost make him accept defeat...
Though Prof.
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