British professor wins Abel Prize for solving 300-year-old math equation

British professor wins Abel Prize for solving 300-year-old math equation


The prestigious prize, otherwise known as the Nobel of mathematics, was awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, to British professor Sir Andrew J. Wiles for solving a problem that has baffled mathematicians for centuries – “Fermat’s Last Theorem”. Sir Wiles is currently a professor Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute.

The theorem, which reads as “There are no whole number solutions to the equation xn + yn = zn when n is greater than 2″, was first posed by French mathematician Pierre de Fermat in 1637, and since then, it has tormented the minds of many bright minds. That is, until Sir Andrew Wiles made his breakthrough in 1994, while working at Princeton. This week, he was awarded the 2016 Abel Prize, which, besides the prestige, also brings him $700,000.

“Fermat’s equation was my passion from an early age, and solving it gave me an overwhelming sense of fulfillment. It has always been my hope that my solution of this age-old problem would inspire many young people to take up mathematics and to work on the many challenges of this beautiful and fascinating subject”, Sir Andrew Wiles declared. He first came across the equation in 1963, when he was a ten-year-old boy growing up in Cambridge, England, in his local library. Since then he knew he had to solve it.

As for the academy, they said that Sir Wiles was awarded the prize “for his stunning proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem by way of the modularity conjecture for semistable elliptic curves, opening a new era in number theory”.

At 62, Sir Andrew Wiles remains an active member of the research community at Oxford, where he is a member of the number theory research group. Currently, he is developing new ideas in the context of the Langland’s Program, a set of far-reaching conjectures connecting number theory to algebraic geometry and the theory of automorphic forms, reports University of Oxford.