As the curtain rises, an illuminated mathematical expression dominates the scene. "Do you see that theorem?" the narrator asks. "In 1637, Pierre de Fermat . . . wrote it down in the margin of a book. Then he added this tantalizing note." A spotlight suddenly reveals a bearded, bewigged, flashily dressed Fermat, who promptly sings,
"I have discovered a truly...
Just a year before his death in 1920 at the age of 32, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan came upon a remarkable pattern in a special list of whole numbers.
The list represented counts of how many ways a given whole number can be expressed as a sum of positive integers. For example, 4 can be written as 3 + 1, 2 + 2, 2 + 1 + 1, and 1 + 1 + 1 + 1. Including 4 itself but...