What Eric Temple Bell calls the last problem is the problem of proving 'Fermat's Last Theorem', which Fermat wrote in the margin of a book almost 350 years ago. The original text of The Last Problem traced the problem from 2000 BC to 17th century France. Along the way we learn quite a bit about history, and just as much about mathematics. Underwood Dudley's notes bring us up-to-date on recent attempts to solve the problem - for the latest printing, he has added a three page addendum about its recent proof by Andrew Wiles. This book fits no categories. It is not a book of mathematics: it is a biography of a famous problem. Pages go by without an equation appearing. It is both a history of number theory and its place in our civilisation, and a history of our civilisation's relationship with mathematics. This rich and varied, wide-ranging book, written with force and vigor by someone with a distinctive style and point of view will provide hours of enjoyable reading for anyone interested in mathematics.
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