# Wiles, Andrew (1953–)

Art © Angelo Nero.

Andrew Wiles is an English mathematician who, in 1994, finally proved Fermat's Last Theorem. Even as a child, Wiles had been fascinated with number theory and, in particular, the conjectured last theorem of Fermat. Wiles studied at Oxford (B.A. 1974) and Cambridge (Ph.D. 1977) and has held posts at Cambridge, Oxford, and Princeton.

From the mid-1980s his work was focused on proving a proposition known as
the **Shimura-Taniyama conjecture**, since from this, it had
been shown, Fermat's Last Theorem would follow. In 1993 he gave a series
of lectures at Cambridge University ending on June 23, 1993. At the end
of the final lecture he announced he had a proof of Fermat's last theorem.
However, when the results were written up for publication, a subtle error
was found. Wiles worked hard for about a year, helped in particular by a
colleague, R. Taylor, and by September 19, 1994, having almost given up, he decided
to have one last try. As he recalled: "... suddenly, totally unexpectedly,
I had this incredible revelation. It was the most important moment of my
working life... [I]t was so indescribably beautiful, it was so simple and
so elegant ... [that] I just stared in disbelief for twenty minutes, then
during the day I walked round the department. I'd keep coming back to my
desk to see it was still there – it was still there."

In 1994 Wiles was appointed Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton.
His paper that proves Fermat's Last Theorem is called "Modular elliptic
curves and Fermat's Last Theorem" and appeared in the *Annals of Mathematics* in 1995.

## Reference

1. Singh, Simon. *Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's
Greatest Mathematical Problem*. New York: Walker & Co., 1997.