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New Number Systems Seek Their Lost Primes

In 1847, Gabriel Lamé proved Fermat’s Last Theorem. Or so he thought. Lamé was a French mathematician who had made many important discoveries. In March of that year he sensed he’d made perhaps his biggest: an elegant proof of a problem that had rebuffed the most brilliant minds for more than 200 years.

For centuries, mathematicians tried to solve problems by adding new values to the usual numbers. Now, Manjul Bharğava, Member (2001–02), Harald Helfgott, Member (2007), Hendrik Lenstra, Member (1990–91), Lillian B. Pierce, Member (2009–10), Arul Shankar, Member (2012–13), and Akshay Venkatesh, Member ( 2005–06) in the School of Mathematics, are among the individuals investigating the unintended consequences of that tinkering.

Read more at Quanta.

March 02, 2017