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Margins and MetropolisAuthority across the Byzantine Empire$
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Judith Herrin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153018

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153018.001.0001

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Mathematical Mysteries in Byzantium

Mathematical Mysteries in Byzantium

The Transmission of Fermat’S Last Theorem

Chapter:
(p.312) 15 Mathematical Mysteries in Byzantium
Source:
Margins and Metropolis
Author(s):

Judith Herrin

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691153018.003.0015

This chapter examines how the mathematical mysteries of Diophantus were preserved, embellished, developed, and enjoyed in Byzantium by many generations of amateur mathematicians like Pierre de Fermat, who formulated what became known as Fermat's last theorem. Fermat was a seventeenth-century scholar and an amateur mathematician who developed several original concepts in addition to the famous “last theorem.” One of his sources was the Arithmetika, a collection of number problems written by Diophantus, a mathematician who appears to have flurished in Alexandria in the third century AD. It was through the Greek text translated into Latin that Fermat became familiar with Diophantus's mathematical problems, and in particular the one at book II, 8, which encouraged the formulation of his own last theorem. Fermat's last theorem claims that “the equation xn + yn = zn has no nontrivial solutions when n is greater than 2”.

Keywords:   mathematicians, Diophantus, Byzantium, Fermat's last theorem, Pierre de Fermat, Arithmetika, number problems, mathematical problems

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