Pierre
de Fermat
is
perhaps
the most
famous
number
theorist
in history.
What
is less
widely
known
is that
for Fermat
mathematics
was only
an avocation:
by trade,
Fermat
was a
lawyer.
He
work
on maxima
and minima,
tangents,
and stationary
points,
earn him
minor credit
as a father
of calculus.
Independently
of Descartes,
he discovered
the fundamental
principle
of analytic
geometry.
And
through
his correspondence
with Pascal,
he was
a cofounder
of probability
theory.
But
he is probably
most wellknown
for his
famous
"Enigma".
Fermat's
portrait is
inscribed
with this
famous
"Enigma",
which is
also known
as
Fermat's
Last Theorem.
It states
that
x^{n} + y^{n} = z^{n} has
no whole number solution when n > 2.
Fermat,
having
posed his
theorem,
then wrote
"I
have
discovered
a truly
remarkable
proof
which
this
margin
is too
small
to contain."
The
proof Fermat
referred
to was
not to
be found,
and thus
began a
quest,
that spanned
the centuries,
to prove
Fermat's
Last Theorem.
Fermat's
image is
also overlaid
by Fermat's
spiral. Fermat's
spiral
(also
known as
a parabolic
spiral),
is a
type of
Archimedean
spiral,
and is named
after Fermat
who spent
considerable
time investigating
it.
