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Andrew Wiles
(11 Apr 1953 - )

British mathematician who after seven years of dedicated work, produced in 1994 a proof of the famously elusive Fermat's Last Theorem.

Science Quotes by Andrew Wiles (4 quotes)

I carried this problem around in my head basically the whole time. I would wake up with it first thing in the morning, I would be thinking about it all day, and I would be thinking about it when I went to sleep. Without distraction I would have the same thing going round and round in my mind.
Recalling the degree of focus and determination that eventually yielded the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem.
— Andrew Wiles
Quoted in interview for PBS TV program Nova. In William Byers, How Mathematicians Think (2007), 1.
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Perhaps I can best describe my experience of doing mathematics in terms of a journey through a dark unexplored mansion. You enter the first room of the mansion and it’s completely dark. You stumble around bumping into the furniture, but gradually you learn where each piece of furniture is. Finally, after six months or so, you find the light switch, you turn it on, and suddenly it’s all illuminated. You can see exactly where you were. Then you move into the next room and spend another six months in the dark. So each of these breakthroughs, while sometimes they’re momentary, sometimes over a period of a day or two, they are the culmination of—and couldn’t exist without—the many months of stumbling around in the dark that proceed them.
— Andrew Wiles
Quoted in interview for website for PBS TV Nova program, 'The Proof'.
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Some mathematics problems look simple, and you try them for a year or so, and then you try them for a hundred years, and it turns out that they're extremely hard to solve. There's no reason why these problems shouldn't be easy, and yet they turn out to be extremely intricate. [Fermat's] Last Theorem is the most beautiful example of this.
— Andrew Wiles
From interview for PBS website on the NOVA program, 'The Proof'.
Science quotes on:  |  Beautiful (259)  |  Easy (204)  |  Example (94)  |  Extremely (16)  |  Fermat’s Last Theorem (3)  |  Pierre de Fermat (15)  |  Hard (243)  |  Hundred (228)  |  Intricate (29)  |  Last (426)  |  Look (582)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Most (1729)  |  Problem (679)  |  Reason (744)  |  Simple (406)  |  Solve (130)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Try (283)  |  Turn (447)  |  Turns Out (4)  |  Why (491)  |  Year (932)

The definition of a good mathematical problem is the mathematics it generates rather than the problem itself.
— Andrew Wiles
From interview for PBS website on the NOVA program, 'The Proof'.
Science quotes on:  |  Definition (224)  |  Generate (16)  |  Good (889)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Problem (679)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 30 -
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- 10 -
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