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Google doodles Fermat's Last Theorem


Updated: August 17, 2011, 7:35 AM IST
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Google doodles Fermat's Last Theorem
French mathematician and lawyer Pierre de Fermat was born on August 17, 1601.

New Delhi: "I have discovered a truly remarkable proof but this margin is too small to contain it," Pierre de Fermat famously wrote on the margin of his copy of the Arithmetica by Diophantus of Alexandria back in 1637. The proof the French mathematician and lawyer was referring to was for his theorem in which he states that no three positive integers x, y, and z can satisfy the equation xn + yn = zn where n is an integer greater than two.

Fermat's Last Theorem, also called Fermat's great theorem, was his best known work and to commemorate the 410th birth anniversary of the founder of the modern theory of numbers Google has put up a doodle inspired by it. Instead of a copy of the Arithmetica, the Google doodle uses a blackboard with a faintly erased Google logo and the theorem written in chalk.

Fermat lived for about three decades after he formulated his famous theorem, but did not elaborate on the "truly remarkable proof."

It was then left for later day mathematicians to find whether the theorem held true. Mathematicians struggled with the theorem for over 350 years and it was only in 1994 that Andrew Wiles, a professor at Princeton University, finally proved Fermat's Last Theorem thus bringing to conclusion one of the most challenging problems in mathematics.

Google also does a little spin-off on Fermat's famous words and notes in the alt and title text of the doodle (that is readable when a user hovers the cursor over the image) "I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain."

Pierre de Fermat was born on August 17, 1601. His father was a wealthy French businessman. There is little information about his early education, but he is believed to have studied law at Toulouse and Bordeaux. He developed an interest in languages, literature, science and mathematics. After receiving a degree in law from the University of Orleans in 1631 he started his legal career and a few years later changed his name from Pierre Fermat to Pierre de Fermat.

Because Fermat did not spread his work through books and journals and he often did not provide any proof for his theorems he was referred to as an 'amateur' mathematician, but at the same time Fermat is also considered to be one of the two (the other being Rene Descartes) leading mathematicians of the first half of the 17th century.

Pierre de Fermat died at the age of 63 on January 12, 1665 at Castres, France.

Google doodles have gained immense popularity over the past few years and the Google team has put out commemorative doodles on events ranging from news events, civic milestones, birthdays, death anniversaries and important dates in history.

Google estimates it has created more than 900 doodles since 1998, with 270 of them running in 2010 and more than 150 in 2011.

<b>A French postage stamp on Pierre de Fermat’s 400th birth anniversary</b><br><br>
<img src="http://static.ibnlive.com/pix/sitepix/08_2011/pierre-de-fermet-stamp-170811.jpg" alt="French postage stamp on Pierre de Fermat’s 400th birth anniversary" with="550" height="367">

First Published: August 17, 2011, 7:35 AM IST
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