A Mathematical Tragedy | Science News

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Math Trek

A Mathematical Tragedy

Sophie Germain had a bold program to prove Fermat's Last Theorem

11:04am, February 25, 2008

This is part two of a two-part series. Part I: "An Attack on Fermat" is available at About Time.

Nearly two centuries ago, Sophie Germain, the first woman known to have discovered significant mathematical theorems, developed a bold plan to prove Fermat's Last Theorem. But this entire plan was nearly lost to history, until David Pengelley of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and Reinhard Laubenbacher of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg dug through her notes, long archived in a French library.

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