While mathematics is definitely not for everyone, the field’s practical use cannot really be contested. Mathematics can be applied to pretty much everything you get involved in in your day to day life, although you don’t really have any reasons to do so aside from the most basic parts.
Even though the field is best appreciated for its practical uses, theoretical mathematics also has its uses. Finally bringing closure to entire generations of mathematicians, 300 year old Fermat’s Theorem was solved by Oxford professor Sir Andrew Wiles.
The 62 year old professor was awarded the Abel Prize by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, along with almost 500,000 pounds. The solving of the theorem was thought to be impossible for generations despite what it might look like at first. This marks a landmark moment for the mathematical community.
Even though he published his proof of the theorem in 1994, it was only now confirmed as being as being legitimate, and the knighted professor will pick up his check in May from the Crown Prince Haakon of Norway himself. According to Sir Wiles,
Fermat’s equation was my passion from an early age, and solving it gave me an overwhelming sense of fulfillment. It has always been my hope that my solution of this age-old problem would inspire many young people to take up mathematics and to work on the many challenges of this beautiful and fascinating subject.
Currently working at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, the illustrious Cambridge native professor solved the equation in 1994 using modularity conjecture for semi-stable elliptic curves. Although appearing simple, especially when compared to other mathematical equations, Fermat’s Last Theorem was anything but that.
Developed in 1637 by the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat, the theorem claims that there are no Whole Number solutions to the equation x^n + y^n = z^n when the exponent ‘n’ is greater than 2. Despite the theorem looking quite simple, it took mathematicians 357 years to solve and another 22 years to confirm.
Knighted in 2000, previous awards and accolades won by the British professor include the Ostrowski Prize, the Rolf Schock Prize, the Shaw Prize, and the Wolf Prize, as well as the United States National Academy of Science’s Mathematics Award and the Royal Society’s Royal Medal.
Despite all of his truly impressive previous endeavors, solving Fermat’s theorem is definitely the high point of Wiles’ career. Not only is it one of the very few mathematicians to make global headlines, but his realization will mark the dawn of a new epoch of mathematics.
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