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Fermat's last theorem is a theorem first proposed by Fermat in the form of a note scribbled in the margin of his copy of the ancient Greek text Arithmetica by Diophantus. The scribbled note was discovered posthumously, and the original is now lost. However, a copy was preserved in a book published by Fermat's son. In the note, Fermat claimed to have discovered a proof that the Diophantine equation has no integer solutions for and . The full text of Fermat's statement, written in Latin, reads "Cubum autem in duos cubos, aut quadrato-quadratum in duos quadrato-quadratos, et generaliter nullam in infinitum ultra quadratum potestatem in duos eiusdem nominis fas est dividere cuius rei demonstrationem mirabilem sane detexi. Hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet" (Nagell 1951, p. 252). In translation, "It is impossible for a cube to be the sum of two cubes, a fourth power to be the sum of two fourth powers, or in general for any number that is a power greater than the second to be the sum of two like powers. I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition that this margin is too narrow to contain." As a result of Fermat's marginal note, the proposition that the Diophantine equation (1) where , , , and are integers, has no nonzero solutions for has come to be known as Fermat's Last Theorem. It was called a "theorem" on the strength of Fermat's statement, despite the fact that no other mathematician was able to prove it for hundreds of years. Note that the restriction is obviously necessary since there are a number of elementary satisfying the equation formulas for generating an infinite number of Pythagorean triples for , (2) A first attempt to solve the equation can be made by attempting to factor the equation, giving (3) Since the product is an exact power, (4) Solving for and gives

it is sufficient to prove Fermat's last theorem by considering odd prime powers only. so and. . this approach unfortunately does not provide any additional insight. and Vandiver developed Vandiver's criteria for deciding if a given irregular prime satisfies the theorem. Genocchi proved that the first case is true for if is not an irregular pair. This established Fermat's Last Theorem for . Kummer showed that the first case is true if either or is an irregular pair. so redefining the arguments gives (8) If no odd prime divides . . in this case. . then it also divides the third. equations (7) and (8) work with 4 in place of . If an odd prime divides . since solutions to these equations in rational numbers are no easier to find than solutions to the original equation. is sufficient to prove Fermat's last theorem by considering only relatively prime . being relatively prime. and that if divides two of . In 1858. . by equation (8).(5) which give (6) However. . Ball and Coxeter 1987). Similarly. Since the case was proved by Fermat to have no solutions. since each term in equation (1) can then be divided by . The "second case" of Fermat's last theorem is " divides exactly one of . and ( ) and was considered by Wieferich. Note that is ruled out by . In 1849. . then is a power of 2. . In 1852. . where is the greatest common divisor. then the reduction (7) can be made. which was subsequently extended to include . Sophie Germain proved the first case of Fermat's Last Theorem for any odd prime when is also a prime. The so-called "first case" of the theorem is for exponents which are relatively prime to . or is also a prime. Kummer proved it for all regular primes and composite numbers of which they are factors (Vandiver 1929. then the that if is a prime such that first case of Fermat's Last Theorem holds for . . Kummer's attack led to the theory of ideals. . and . Legendre subsequently proved .

Vandiver showed (11) and Frobenius extended this to (12) It has also been shown that if were a prime of the form . which excludes the first two Wieferich primes 1093 and 3511. Dirichlet established the case Wells 1986. This establishes that the first case is true for all prime exponents up to (Vardi 1991). Vandiver (1920ab) pointed out gaps and errors in Kummer's memoir which. although he claims Mirimanoff's proof of FLT for exponent 37 is still valid. In 1914. 70). . In 1832. then (9) (Ball and Coxeter 1987). 11. invalidate Kummer's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem for the irregular primes 37. The case was proved by Lamé (1839. Fermat . and 67. Granville and Monagan (1988) showed if there exists a prime satisfying Fermat's Last Theorem. 59. Dirichlet and Lagrange .. The "second case" of Fermat's Last Theorem (for Euler proved the general case of the theorem for .. . 71.and by Mirimanoff (1909). then (13) which raised the smallest possible in the "first case" to by 1941 (Rosser 1941). Such numbers are called Wieferich primes. Wieferich (1909) proved that if the equation is solved in integers relatively prime to an odd prime . using the identity . then (14) for . Mirimanoff (1909) subsequently showed that (10) must also hold for solutions relatively prime to an odd prime . in his view. p.. ) proved harder than the first case. 7.

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