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Archive for History of Exact Sciences

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 219–236 | Cite as

The background of Kummer's proof of Fermat's last theorem for regular primes

  • Harold M. Edwards
Article

Summary

This article contains a brief review of the circumstances which surrounded Kummer's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem for “regular” prime exponents. The often-told story that this proof developed out of an earlier proof which was fallacious is questioned, and a new document, an unknown letter from Liouville to Dirichlet which is related to this history, is presented. Also presented is the little-known fact that Kummer's theory of “ideal complex numbers”, which was the basis of the proof, contained a serious flaw which went uncorrected for ten years.

Keywords

Complex Number Fermat Ideal Complex Early Proof Prime Exponent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold M. Edwards
    • 1
  1. 1.New York University

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