Questions tagged [fermat]

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3
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1answer
138 views

Does Fermat's Principle of Least Time imply that he believed light moved at a finite speed?

And if so, how did he imagine that light moved at different speeds in different media?
1
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0answers
101 views

How did Fermat come up with his Last Theorem?

It's usually believed that Fermat's claim that he had a proof for the Last Theorem is false, and that it might have been more of a conjecture. Or considering it took many centuries and advanced ...
1
vote
0answers
82 views

How did Fermat find tangent lines of Folium of Descartes?

The wikipedia article about Folium of Descartes says: Descartes challenged Pierre de Fermat to find the tangent line to the curve at an arbitrary point since Fermat had recently discovered a method ...
18
votes
1answer
3k views

Is the story about Fermat's writing on a margin true?

Is there any evidence that Fermat wrote on the margin of a book "I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition that this margin is too narrow to contain." Everyone ...
9
votes
2answers
474 views

What did Fermat do as a lawyer?

Fermat is easily one of the best known mathematicians of all time. We all know about Fermat's Last Theorem, Fermat's Little Theorem, his quadrature rule, his invention of probability theory, etc. ...
2
votes
1answer
159 views

Did Kepler influence Fermat?

On page 347 in his "Mathematical Thought, volume 1", Morris Kline writes: "The work on the third class of problems, finding the maxima and minima of functions, may be said to begin with an ...
69
votes
3answers
10k views

What evidence is there that Fermat had a proof for his Last Theorem?

Aside from the fact that Fermat was a genius, is it probable that he actually did have a proof? Some specifics that I think would point one way or another: Would the mathematics of his day allow him ...