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It would be nice if there were a note in the beginning about how to pronounce "Fermat." Since he was from France, I'm fairly confident it's not "fur-mat", but I'm not actually sure how it's pronounced. Ketsuekigata 21:57, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

It's pronounced 'Fer-mar' or at least that's how it was said in several documentaries.

It's always nice to have the IPA, but in this case it is lacking an indication for the accented syllable (either first or last, evidently) of Pierre's surname.AtomAnt (talk) 20:09, 13 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

The IPA may show how it is pronounced in modern French, but how would Fermat have pronounced it himself? French pronunciation was quite different in Fermat's day, as we know from the works of Moliere.... (talk) 22:47, 14 April 2019 (UTC)[reply]


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Fermat's opinion


Fermat expressed an opinion in the controversy over Copernicanism. I can't find any detail with a Google search.

See Fermat's letter to Mersenne of 26/4/1636. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:54, 23 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]
See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-009-9705-7 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:25, 23 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Didn't Euclid "invent" Infinite Descent?


From the article, section headed Work: "He invented a factorization method—Fermat's factorization method—as well as the proof technique of infinite descent, which he used to prove Fermat's right triangle theorem which includes as a corollary Fermat's Last Theorem for the case n = 4."

I was recently reviewing Euclid's proof that every composite number has at least one prime factor (Book VII, Proposition 31), and it seems to me that that proof qualifies as a proof by infinite descent. See https://farside.ph.utexas.edu/Books/Euclid/Elements.pdf. So I don't think Fermat "invented" the method; Euclid was about 2,000 years ahead of him.

I would make the revision, but just thought I'd ask a question here first and see if anyone agrees with me. I haven't done much editing lately, and I figure I ought to be polite. DavidCBryant 23:19, 20 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Your assertion is correct (Euclid's work contains its first known appearance), and is supported at the article Proof by infinite descent. Feel free to change the word "invented" to something more accurate regarding infinite descent and Fermat. — Myasuda (talk) 01:25, 21 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]



Most biographies like Britannia and MacTutor has 1601 for the birthdate. But the MAA has published quite a recent article making a strong case for 1607,[1] How much weight should we be given to this single source? I think we probaly need a footnote to discuss the issue.--Salix alba (talk): 11:31, 27 February 2021 (UTC)[reply]

@Salix alba: I find the cited MAA article convincing. I think that 1607 is the correct date. I also think the changes you've made are an improvement. I think it would also be good if someone were to verify, then add some of sources cited by that article:
  • Barner, Klaus (2001). "How old did Fermat become?," NTM: International Journal for History and Ethics of Natural Sciences, Technology and Medicine (New series) 8(4), 209-228.
  • Barner, Klaus (2007). "Neues zu Fermats Geburtsdatum," Mitteilungen der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung 15, 12-14.
  • Barner, Klaus (2001), "Pierre de Fermat (1601?-1665): His life besides mathematics" in the Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society No. 42, December 2001, pages 12-16. EMS Newsletter December 2001 (PDF).
I would also not oppose, qualifying our date in some way, to acknowledge the traditional birth date, and indicate some uncertainty. Perhaps some version of "1607?", or "1607 (1601?)", "1601 (1607?)", or the like?
Paul August 12:26, 28 February 2021 (UTC)[reply]