Questions tagged [fermat]

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17th or 18th century use of the continued fraction expansion of $(1 + \sqrt D)/2$ to solve the diophantine equation $x^2 - D y^2 = 4$

Can someone please provide an early reference to the use of the continued fraction expansion of $\frac{1+\sqrt D}2$ to solve the Diophantine equation $x^2 - D y^2 = 4$ for a positive integer $D$ ...
John Robertson's user avatar
1 vote
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What physical problems required the invention of the derivative?

I know that Fermat had a method of adequality in order to solve certain optimization. One such problem was: "Suppose that you have a rectangle of material and need to cut corners into it such ...
Addem's user avatar
  • 491
1 vote
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Fermat et l'équation de Pell

Does any of you happen to own and electronic copy of the paper "Fermat et l'équation de Pell" by A. Weil? If I understand correctly, this paper can be found on pages 413-419 of the third ...
José Hdz. Stgo.'s user avatar
3 votes
1 answer

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?
releseabe's user avatar
  • 1,111
1 vote
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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 ...
HighVoltage's user avatar
1 vote
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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 ...
user avatar
18 votes
1 answer

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 ...
Wynne's user avatar
  • 375
9 votes
2 answers

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. ...
Joel's user avatar
  • 193
2 votes
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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 ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
  • 5,062
74 votes
3 answers

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 ...
Carlos Bribiescas's user avatar