Fermat, Pierre de (1601–1665)
Fermat was one of the founders, with René Decartes, of algebraic geometry, and, with Blaise Pascal, of probability theory. His work on the maxima and minima of curves and tangents to them was seen, by Isaac Newton, as a starting point for calculus. Yet his greatest love was for number theory. In 1640, while studying perfect numbers, Fermat wrote to Mersenne that if p is prime, then 2p divides 2p - 2. Shortly after he expanded this into what is now called Fermat's little theorem. As usual, Fermat stated "I would send you a proof, if I did not fear its being too long." His most famous statement of this form accompanied his hasty notes on the "Last Theorem."
Related entry• Fermat number
Related category• MATHEMATICIANS
Home • About • Copyright © The Worlds of David Darling • Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy • Contact