Customer Reviews for

Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem

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  • Posted November 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Inspiring, even if you're not a nerd

    A veritable freak show of the successful mathematicians throughout history, with a masterful "dumbing-down" of the proof's structure.

    Despite its attempts at pulp math, this book shines instead with the stereotyped human history behind Wiles's proof: stoic Greeks, suicidal Japanese, radical French, gossiping Americans and reserved Brits.

    However, the scattered sections relating Wiles's reasons for pursuing his proof for over a decade are strangely inspiring. His domestic life makes you wonder "Why don't I follow my dreams, too?". And that, I believe, is THE most important message from this epic tale of math nerds and their struggle to escape this world of horror and inconvenience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2004

    Great book, even if you do not like math.

    'Fermat's Enigma' is a book you would like to read if you are doing it for summer reading or if you have a long trip. This book tells you about math and everyone who made it possible for us to know what we know. You would like this book even if you do not like math.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2002

    A marvelous read for everyone -- even non-mathematicians

    For a slow moving puzzel's unraveling this is a fast paced read and a fascinating, delightful insight into the workings of the mathematician's mind and the abstract thought with which it concerns itself. This human drama set in the rarefied atmosphere of pure mathematics is powerfully written and gives a dimension of feeling and competitiveness that few ever credit to those who work in the field. The mathematics described in the book are beautiful and give the tyro a run for his or her money in trying to follow suit to understand what is going on. Delightful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2002

    Good, but with some slow parts

    I enjoyed reading this book, however there were parts that were a bit slow. The book was mostly on the history of the problem and how others attempted to prove the theorem. It was not so much about Andrew Wiles' work in proving the theorem. Overall, though, I really liked this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys or is interested in math.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome Account of the proof for Fermat's Last Theorem

    Singh produced this book alongside his BBC production on Andrew Wiles and his work proving Fermat’s Last Theorem (BBC Horizon Programme, first aired on January 15, 1996). The book begins with the historical background of the theorem and how it has intrigued the mathematical community for centuries. Singh’s presentation of key historical figures encapsulates both the importance of those figures and their connection to the development of Wiles’ work. With a balance of the mathematics (hitting the most important points and making them accessible) with history and biography, Singh introduces the reader to the world of mathematicians and the exciting search for mathematical solutions. A few important, yet basic, proofs are given in appendices. With this necessary background, Singh introduces Wiles and his own affinity for Fermat’s Last Theorem which began when Wiles was 10. The bulk of the book traces Wile’s extension or development of several key pieces of mathematics in developing his proof from a human rather than a technical perspective. There are a few places where Singh oversteps with his rhetoric – such as making the claim that statisticians don’t know much calculus – but I found these problems minor in comparison to his overall presentation of this intriguing problem and the history of its engagement and final solution. I highly recommend the book as well as the BBC programme. The book gives much needed historical information and the proofs in the appendices are helpful for gaining perspective on the mathematics. The BBC programme uses brief interviews with key figures including Wiles and many of his colleagues incarnating the excitement of mathematical endeavor and giving flesh to mathematics as a very human activity.

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