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Andrew Wiles was merely ten years of age back in 1960 when he stumbled upon a book known as The Last Problem stacked in the local library. This book told the story of a struggle which lasted 330 long years. This was an attempt to resolve what is known as Fermat’s Last Theorem – a problem that has remained unsolved for ages.
The professor from University of Oxford was rewarded with the Abel Prize, which is like the Nobel Prize in the world of mathematics. Awarded by Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, this prize is complemented by cash prize that carries more worth than $700,000. Wiles is reported to have been hell bent on finding a solution to the Fermat’ Last Theorem once he came across it. Little did he know that this struggle would last a total of three decades.
He spoke of this to 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.”
The theorem basically mentions that there aren’t any whole number solutions to the equation xn+yn=zn where n is more than 2. It may seem fairly simple but Wiles was only able to present first prof in 1993. Though, that was not the end of the struggle. Once a mathematician reviewed the work by Wiles, there were some errors reported. Wiles published the final variant two years later. He managed it by amalgamating elliptic curves, modular forms and Galois representations. Now he hopes that this will inspire more ten-year-olds to challenge themselves.