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Fermat Number, a class of numbers, is an integer of the form .
For example: Putting in we get , , , etc.
Fermat observed that all the integers were prime numbers and announced that is a prime for each natural value of .
In writing to Prof. Mersenne, Fermat confidently announced:
I have found that numbers of the form are always prime numbers and have long since signified to analysts the truth of this theorem.
However, he also accepted that he was unable to prove it theoretically. Euler in 1732 negated Fermat’s fact and told that are primes but is not a prime since it is divisible by 641.
Euler also stated that all Fermat numbers are not necessarily primes and the Fermat number which is a prime, might be called a Fermat Prime. Euler used division to prove the fact that is not a prime. The elementary proof of Euler’s negation is due to G. Bennett.
|The Fermat number is divisible by i.e., .|
Factorising in such a way that
Subtracting from 641, we get .
Now again, equation (1) could be written as
Mathematics is on its progression and well developed now but it is yet not confirmed that whether there are infinitely many Fermat primes or, for that matter, whether there is at least one Fermat prime beyond . The best guess is that all Fermat numbers are composite (non-prime).
A useful property of Fermat numbers is that they are relatively prime to each other; i.e., for Fermat numbers , .
Following two theorems are very useful in determining the primality of Fermat numbers:
|For , the Fermat number is prime|
Euler- Lucas Theorem
|Any prime divisor of , where , is of form .|
Fermat numbers () with are prime; with have completely been factored; with have two or more prime factors known; with have only one prime factor known; with have no factors known but proved composites. has not yet been proved either prime or composite.
- Video: Documentary on Proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem (wpgaurav.wordpress.com)
Not a standard post! This post is a tribute to one of the greatest mathematicians in world history, Pierre de Fermat on his 410th birthday. New to his name? Read this wikipedia article to discover about Pierre Fermat.
His Last Theorem is very famous amongst mathematicians because of its unsolvability. It was unsolved for almost 4 centuries. Learn about Fermat’s Last Theorem here. As a tribute, below is a youtube video created for BBC Horizon programme. This video is Simon Singh‘s moving documentary of Andrew Wiles‘ extraordinary search for the most elusive proof in number theory, i.e., proof of Fermat’s last theorem.