UNT's Women in Mathematical Sciences (WIMS) group is looking forward to hosting a special talk by Dr. Sue Geller on November 15. This free event will take place at 1pm in the General Academic Building (GAB) 104 and is open to the public.
Dr. Sue Geller is an American mathematician and a Professor Emerita of Mathematics at the Department of Mathematics at Texas A&M University. She is noted for her research background in algebraic K-theory, as well as her interdisciplinary work in bioinformatics and biostatistics, among other disciplines. Her talk on November 15 is titled, "Fermat's Last Theorum: History, Attempts, Unsolved Issues."
This talk will focus on the history of attempts to prove Fermat's Last Theorem, an argument that states that no three positive integers a, b, and c satisfy the equation a^n + b^n = c^n for any integer value of n greater than 2. Dr. Geller will address some of the fields of mathematics that started this pursuit, a common proof technique with roots in Fermat's proofs for low n, and conclude with a modern example of an attempt to prove a special case using only what Fermat knew, where it went deceptively wrong, and how to find such mistakes yourself.
"For more than 350 years, Fermat's Last Theorem had remained one of the most famous unsolved problems in mathematics," said Dr. Ralf Schmidt, chair of UNT Math. "It was a momentous event when it was finally proven using complicated tools from 20th century mathematics. I look forward to learning more about the history of the problem and how it has inspired generations of mathematicians."
UNT's WIMS group was founded by UNT Mathematics Professor Dr. Anne Shepler. The group's mission is to organize activities that will bring together women interested in mathematical sciences, with the goal of highlighting and encouraging their further contribution to the field of mathematics. Professor Shepler believes in the importance of encouraging broad collaboration in research and devotes considerable efforts to organizing conferences where mathematicians can share their research.
After Pythagoras proved that A^2 + B^2 = C^2 for right triangles with hypotenuse C, many mathematicians asked if there were non-zero integers such that A^n +B^n = C^n for n>2. By the third century, it was a common conjecture that no such solution was possible for any n>2. In 1637, Pierre de Fermat wrote in his copy of Diophantus's Arithmetica ``I have discovered a truly remarkable proof which this margin is too small to contain." This ``result" became known as Fermat's Last Theorem, yet no proof of his was ever found, only a correct proof for n=4. In 1993, corrected in 1995, Andrew Wiles proved something much stronger from which the truth of Fermat's Last Theorem came as a corollary. There still is no direct proof of Fermat's Last Theorem.