September 02, 2010

Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh

Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem

I have seen this book mentioned here and there for quite a while, and finally picked it up from piles of books on the floor (in my room). Knew this book is great, and it truly is.

I have to confess, I did not even finish all the required math courses that were necessary to get into 4-year public universities.  (I had to be specific, because some private universities in Japan do not require math exams.)

To be honest with you, my grades in other subjects (English, Japanese, History, etc) were good enough to compensate the extremely low math scores (due to I did not even take Statistics and advanced courses).  At young an age of 17, I knew my limitations.  My best friend was (and still is) a math (and physics and chemistry) genius, who helped me realize my lack of talent.

I always need to know exactly how things work, in order to understand and make use of it.  My friends were all saying "you just have to memorize the theorem, you don't need to think or know why".  My nature is all against it... I always want to know "why".

This does not mean I had no interest in math or science, especially when it is related to history and when it helps us to see new aspects of this world.  This book, Fermat's Last Theorem, is exactly that.
I am only into 1/3 of the book, but I already feel that I should tell the world how great it is.  Please read!

P.S. After posting, I just realized that I had written nothing about the content itself.  This book is about how a great mystery of Fermat's Last Theorem attracted so many mathematicians, and how Andrew Wilds came across the mystery at the age of 10, for which he spent 30 years to solve.




*P.S. 国立の2次試験では事実、数学の問題のうち半分しか解きませんでした(しかも点数の低い導入部分のみ)。これが上手く行ったせいで、その後「最低点で受かる努力」が身についてしまった私。社会人になって初めて、そんなやり方が通用しないことが分かったのでした。。。やっぱり全力投球が基本です。(と、改めて自分に言い聞かせる。。。)

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