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Tony PhillipsTony Phillips' Take on Math in the Media
A monthly survey of math news
Fermat's Last Theorem

On October 28, 1997, The Proof will be broadcast on PBS as a program in the Nova series. (See local listings for exact times.) This program was originally broadcast in Britain in January 1996 in the BBC Horizon series under the title Fermat's Last Theorem. Visit the BBC Horizon web site for information about the program, including a transcript. A review of this program is available on e-MATH.


On June 23, 1993, Andrew Wiles announced to his colleagues at a mathematics conference in Cambridge, England that he had proven Fermat's Last Theorem. Email zapped around the globe as mathematicians and others celebrated the news. Newspapers all over the world trumpeted the achievement, and since then there have been many articles written about the proof. A number of web pages devoted to Fermat's Last Theorem have been started, among them the following:

MacTutor History of Mathematics page on Fermat's Last Theorem

Yahoo page on Fermat's Last Theorem

State University of New York at Albany Department of Mathematics gopher--Fermat's Last Theorem

Cambridge University Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics gopher--Fermat's Last Theorem

The Proof of Fermat's Last Theorem by R. Taylor and A. Wiles, by Gerd Faltings, an article from the July 1995 issue of the Notices of the AMS.




In October 1993 the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute held the "Fermat Fest", which drew about 1000 people to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The program included talks and discussion by some of the top experts in number theory. A videotape of the program is available from MSRI and from the AMS. Click on http://www.msri.org/publications/video/forsale/fermat.html for more information.




Fermat's Enigma, by Simon Singh (the director of the above-mentioned BBC Horizon program), has been a best-seller in Britain and will be released in the U.S. in October 1997. The publisher is Walker and Company.




The proof of Fermat's Last Theorem appeared in two papers which together composed the May, 1995 issue of the Annals of Mathematics. The precise references are:

Andrew Wiles, Modular elliptic curves and Fermat's Last Theorem, Ann. Math. 141 (1995), 443-551.
Andrew Wiles and Richard Taylor, Ring-theoretic properties of certain Hecke algebras, Ann. Math. 141 (1995), 553-572.




Below are references to some of the articles that appeared in the popular press on Fermat's Last Theorem.

"At Last, Shout of `Eureka!' in Age-Old Math Mystery," by Gina Kolata, New York Times, June 24, 1993.

"a^n + b^n = c^n, Le theoreme de Fermat enfin resolu?" Jean-Francois Augereau, Le Monde, June 25, 1993.

"350 Years Later, Math Conundrum Bites the Dust," by Gina Kolata, International Herald Tribune, June 25, 1993.

"x^n + y^n = z^n: Princeton professor appears to have proved Fermat's Last Theorem," by Kim A. McDonald, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 7, 1993.

"Math Whiz who Battled 350-Year-Old Problem," by Gina Kolata, New York Times, June 29, 1993.

"Fermat's Last Theorem Finally Yields," by Barry Cipra, Science, July 2, 1993.

"Curvy Path Leads to Fermat's Last Theorem," by Ivars Peterson, Science News, July 3, 1993.

"Fini to Fermat's Last Theorem," by Michael D. Lemonick, Time, July 5, 1993.

"Wiles Proves Taniyama's Conjecture; Fermat's Last Theorem Follows," by Kenneth A. Ribet, Notices of the AMS, July/August 1993.

"No Margin Would Contain It: A proof of Fermat's last theorem comes to Andrew Wiles," by Peter G. Brown, The Sciences, September/October 1993.

"Update on Proof of Fermat's Last Theorem: Gap appears in proof but experts laud Wiles's accomplishment," by Allyn Jackson, Notices of the AMS, March 1994.

"Fermat's Last Theorem and modern arithmetic," by B. Hayes and K. Ribet, American Scientist, March--April, 1994.

"Princeton Mathematician Looks Back on Fermat Proof," by Barry Cipra, Science, May 26, 1995.