Science

Oxford professor solves 300-year-old mystery mathematical theorem

Press Trust of India London | Updated on January 20, 2018

Sir Andrew Wiles   -  Wikipedia

An Oxford University professor has won a £500,000 prize for cracking a 300-year-old mystery mathematical theorem described as an “epochal moment” for academics.

Sir Andrew Wiles has been awarded the Abel Prize by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, which he published in 1994.

The 62-year-old will pick up the award and a cheque for six million Norwegian Krone (£495,000) from Crown Prince Haakon of Norway in Oslo in May, for an achievement that the academy described as “an epochal moment for mathematics“.

“It is a tremendous honour to receive the Abel Prize and to join the previous laureates who have made such outstanding contributions to the field.

“Fermat’s equation was my passion from an early age, and solving it gave me an overwhelming sense of fulfilment,” Sir Andrew, currently a professor at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute was quoted as saying by The Telegraph. “It has always been my hope that my solution of this age—old problem would inspire many young people to take up mathematics and to work on the many challenges of this beautiful and fascinating subject.”

The academy said Sir Andrew was awarded the prize “for his stunning proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem by way of the modularity conjecture for semistable elliptic curves, opening a new era in number theory.

Cambridge-born Sir Andrew made his breakthrough while working at Princeton.

First formulated by the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat in 1637, the theorem states: There are no whole number solutions to the equation x n + y n = z n when n is greater than 2.

“Wiles’ proof was not only the high point of his career — and an epochal moment for mathematics — but also the culmination of a remarkable personal journey that began three decades earlier,” the academy said.

Correction

This news copy has been modified to correct the equation for The Last Theorem.

Published on March 16, 2016

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