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Fermat's Last Theorem

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In number theory, Fermat's Last Theorem states that no three positive integers a, b, and c satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2. The cases n = 1 and n = 2 have been known since antiquity to have infinitely many solutions.

The 1670 edition of Diophantus's Arithmetica includes Fermat's commentary, referred to as his "Last Theorem" (Observatio Domini Petri de Fermat), posthumously published by his son.

Problem II.8 in the 1621 edition of the Arithmetica of Diophantus. On the right is the margin that was too small to contain Fermat's alleged proof of his "last theorem".

British mathematician Andrew Wiles

Czech postage stamp commemorating Wiles' proof

Number theory

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Number theory is a branch of pure mathematics devoted primarily to the study of the integers and arithmetic functions. German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) said, "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences—and number theory is the queen of mathematics." Number theorists study prime numbers as well as the properties of mathematical objects constructed from integers, or defined as generalizations of the integers.

The distribution of prime numbers is a central point of study in number theory. This Ulam spiral serves to illustrate it, hinting, in particular, at the conditional independence between being prime and being a value of certain quadratic polynomials.

The Plimpton 322 tablet

Leonhard Euler

"Here was a problem, that I, a ten-year-old, could understand, and I knew from that moment that I would never let it go. I had to solve it." —Sir Andrew Wiles about his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem.