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Andrew Wiles Quotes & Sayings
30 entries tagged including 1 subtopics.
Last updated Mar 2020
Andrew Wiles Topics
Well, 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.
We've lost something that's been with us for so long, and something that drew a lot of us into mathematics. But perhaps that's always the way with math problems, and we just have to find new ones to capture our attention.
There's also a sense of freedom. I was so obsessed by this problem that I was thinking about if all the time - when I woke up in the morning, when I went to sleep at night, and that went on for eight years.
There are proofs that date back to the Greeks that are still valid today.
Then when I reached college I realized that many people had thought about the problem during the 18th and 19th centuries and so I studied those methods.
The only way I could relax was when I was with my children.
The greatest problem for mathematicians now is probably the Riemann Hypothesis.
The definition of a good mathematical problem is the mathematics it generates rather than the problem itself.
That particular odyssey is now over. My mind is now at rest.
Pure mathematicians just love to try unsolved problems - they love a challenge.
Perhaps the methods I needed to complete the proof would not be invented for a hundred years. So even if I was on the right track, I could be living in the wrong century.
Mathematicians aren't satisfied because they know there are no solutions up to four million or four billion, they really want to know that there are no solutions up to infinity.
Just because we can't find a solution it doesn't mean that there isn't one.
It's fine to work on any problem, so long as it generates interesting mathematics along the way - even if you don't solve it at the end of the day.
It could be that the methods needed to take the next step may simply be beyond present day mathematics. Perhaps the methods I needed to complete the proof would not be invented for a hundred years.
I'm sure that some of them will be very hard and I'll have a sense of achievement again, but nothing will mean the same to me - there's no other problem in mathematics that could hold me the way that this one did.
I was so obsessed by this problem that I was thinking about it all the time - when I woke up in the morning, when I went to sleep at night - and that went on for eight years.
I tried to fit it in with some previous broad conceptual understanding of some part of mathematics that would clarify the particular problem I was thinking about.
I really believed that I was on the right track, but that did not mean that I would necessarily reach my goal.
I realized that anything to do with Fermat's Last Theorem generates too much interest.
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