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Fermat, Pierre de, 1601-65, French mathematician. A magistrate whose avocation was mathematics, Fermat is known as a founder of modern number theory and probability theory. He also did much to establish coordinate geometry (see Cartesian coordinates) and invented a number of methods for determining maxima and minima that were later of use to Newton in applying the calculus. He noted without proof, although he claimed to have discovered one, the assertion now known as **Fermat's Last Theorem,** which states that the equation *x*^{n} + *y*^{n} = *z*^{n}, where *x,* *y,* *z,* and *n* are nonzero integers, has no solutions for *n* that are greater than 2. Prizes were offered for a proof of this theorem, and attempted proofs resulted in many developments in the theory of numbers. British mathematician Andrew Wiles described a proof of the conjecture in 1993, but a gap in the proof required additional work, which was completed in 1994. However, Wiles's proof involved mathematical concepts that were unknown in Fermat's lifetime, so whether Fermat had a valid proof remains conjecture. In optics Fermat recognized that of all possible paths, light takes the path that takes the least time; this fundamental rule is known as Fermat's principle.

See M. S. Mahoney, *The Mathematical Career of Pierre de Fermat 1601-1665* (2d rev. ed. 1994); A. D. Aczel, *Fermat's Last Theorem* (1996); S. Singh and J. Lynch, *Fermat's Enigma* (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 2004.

Licensed from Columbia University Press

Licensed from Columbia University Press

Saint-Pierre-de-Mailloc is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northern France.## See also

## References

Based on the article in the French Wikipedia.

Its postal code is 14290. The INSEE code is 14647.

- Population: 393
- Area: 4.68 km²
- Elevation: 113 m
- Canton: Orbec

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Last updated on Friday September 19, 2008 at 16:00:33 PDT (GMT -0700)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Last updated on Friday September 19, 2008 at 16:00:33 PDT (GMT -0700)

View this article at Wikipedia.org - Edit this article at Wikipedia.org - Donate to the Wikimedia Foundation

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