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Wiles, Andrew (John)


Mathematician, born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, EC England, UK. He studied at Clare College, Cambridge, and joined Princeton University in 1980. In 1993 he announced that he had solved one of mathematics' oldest mysteries, Fermat's last theorem - a problem which had intrigued him since childhood. His proof makes use of the Taniyama-Weil conjecture, a problem in number theory dealing with the nature of elliptic curves. In 1986 US mathematician Kenneth A Ribet had shown that, if this conjecture could be solved, a proof of Fermat's theorem would follow. Inspired by Ribet's work, Wiles devoted seven years to solving a special case of the conjecture, and by 1994 it had been accepted that a proof of the theorem had indeed been found.

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