|Pierre de Fermat|
|French Number Theorist|
Pierre de Fermat (pronounced Fair-mah) was born in Beaumont-de-Lomagne, France in August of 1601 and died in 1665. He is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians of the seventeenth century. Fermat's father was a leather merchant and his mother's family was in the legal profession. Fermat attended a Franciscan monastery before moving on to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in civil law from the University of Orleans in 1631. He married, had five children and practiced law. For the most part, Math was a hobby for Fermat. Fermat was a busy lawyer and did not let his love of math completely take over his time. It's been said that Fermat never wanted anything to be published as he considered math to be his hobby. The only one thing he did publish - he did so anonymously. He sent many of his papers by mail to some of the best mathematicians in France. It was his link with Marin Mersenne that gave Fermat his international reputation. Fermat loved to dabble in math and rarely provide his proofs (evidence or procedures for reaching conclusions), he would state theorems but neglected the proofs! In fact, his most Famous work 'Fermat's Last Theorem' remained without a proof until 1993 when Andrew J. Wiles provided the first proof. During Fermat's lifetime, he received very little recognition as a mathematician, if not for the fact that others saved his papers and letters, he may not be the legacy that he is seen as today.
(Fermat often scribbled notes in the margin of Bachet's translation of Diophantus's "Arithmetica".)Back to Mathematicians