## 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 | ||||||

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