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Fermats Enigma Hardcover – Oct 15 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Oct 15 1997
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Canada (AHC) (Oct. 15 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670877565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670877560
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.2 x 19.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #483,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"I was gripped by Simon Singh's "Fermat's Last Theorem"!Singh's book puts across the romance of the discipline and the engaging wit and comradeship of the mathematical community.' Independent 'Unexpectedly gripping!The averagely numerate can catch a glimpse of the pure beauty of numbers without having to understand the calculations involved.' Sunday Telegraph 'Far from being a dry textbook it reads like the chronicle of an obsessive love affair. It has the classic ingredients that Hollywood would recognise.' Daily Mail 'If you enjoyed Dava Sobel's "Longitude" you will enjoy this.' Evening Standard --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Since 1991 Simon Singh has been writing, directing and producing for the BBC Science department. In the past he has produced the weekly magazine programme 'Tomorrow's World' . He directed the 'Horizon' about Andrew Wiles and his obsessive solving of Fermat's Last Theorem. He completed his PhD at Cambridge in 1990. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 26 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a non-fiction mathematical detective story. Very intriguing. I didn't find the book completely evenly paced all the way through. However, the author was good at boiling complex concepts down so that an engaged reader could follow the discussion (only occasionally I found myself wishing there was more detail and technical explanation). A very good exploration of a long-standing mathematical mystery. As someone not well versed in the history of mathematics but definitely interested, it held my attention and didn't let go.
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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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Format: Paperback
I may have to apologize for not as raving as other reviewers on this book by Simon Singh. To be fair to the book and thus the author, I do find a fairly fluent narration on the mathematicians who attempted or contributed to solve the Fermat's Last Theorem. Meanwhile, I personally don't find the writing style and the organization of the materials to be particularly appealing.
We never hold any slightest hope that a 285-page book (the paperback edition) would offer us a clear understanding on how the proof, that incorporates so much of the techniques in the modern number theory, is devised. The book basically steers itself all clear from the mathematics.
These below are what significantly push my rating of this book to a low range:
1. Too much on who the mathematicians were rather what they did to the proof. Approximately two-thirds of the book is on stories behind those mathematicians who one way or the other got involved in the Last Theorem. Those may be interesting from a historical perspective but are simply irrelevant to how we came to the proof.
2. The author starts quite early in the book to tout mathematical proof as an "absolute proof" that "[m]athematical theorems rely on this logical process and once proven are true until the end of time. Mathematical proofs are absolute." By contrast, "... the scientific theory can never be proved to the same absolute level of a mathematical theorem ... So-called scientific proof relies on observation and perception." An account on the differences between the two is beyond the scope here. Apparently, the author either doesn't know those are apples and oranges or, worse, attempts to elevate mathematical proof to an "absolute" level it might not need at all.
3.
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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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Format: Hardcover
Simon Singh sets out to convey the drama, excitement and genuine suspense surrounding the solving of one of the greatest problems in math - the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Singh's challenge is in both conveying the historical significance of the problem, and in boiling down complex math for those, like me, who are not particularly knowledgeable in math. Sadly, Singh fails in both counts. FERMAT'S ENIGMA moves slowly through the history of number theory, while leaving the meaning math's meaning impregnable. Although this book is short, after a while I was wondering what the use was in going on. I suspect that those who know more about math than I could enjoy this book. Sadly, I could not - it was just over my head.
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