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An English Professor Won $700,000 For Solving a 379-Year-Old Maths Problem

Sir Andrew Wiles, currently working as a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford in the UK, has been given the significant Abel Prize for 2016. Abel Prize is a cash prize worth more than US$700,000. Sir Andrew Wiles won this prize by solving a 379-year-old maths problem called Fermat's Last Theorem. Fermat's Last Theorem, formulated by French mathematician Pierrede Fermat in 1637, states: "There are no whole number solutions to the equation xn+yn=zn when n is greater than 2."

Updated version of the previous article.

Although the theorem can be conveyed in such easy terms, cracking it annoyed mathematicians for over 350 years before Wiles' first proof was provided in 1993. That real solution – took some 200 pages to write down – was the outcome of an extreme period of research lasting over seven years. When Andrew Wiles provided the proof in a sequence of speeches at Cambridge University, a crowd of over 200 scientists in attendance erupted in ovation.

But even that time, Fermat wasn't quite done. A mathematician studying Fermat ' original work detected errors in the solution, necessitating the proof to be reviewed. But Andrew Wiles did it at last.

Wiles solves this, what others couldn't for hundreds of years, by solving the problem from an unusual angle, uniting elements of three branches of mathematics – modular forms, elliptic curves, and Galois representations – and constructing upon the work of centuries of mathematicians before him. Want to wee Wiles solution in more detail? See here.

Wiles told The Guardian, “This problem captivated me. It was the most famous popular problem in mathematics, although I didn't know that at the time. What amazed me was that there were some unsolved problems that someone who was 10 years old could understand and even try. And I tried it throughout my teenage years. When I first went to college I thought I had a proof, but it turned out to be wrong.”

As a 10-year-old boy back in the 1960s, Andrew Wiles happened come across a book in his local library called The Last Problem. That’s when his passion about this problem started and he has come a long way now to solve this.

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