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    Sale 5442

    Landmarks of Science & Medicine from the Library of Andras Gedeon

    23 April 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 119

    FERMAT, Pierre de (1601-1665) -- DIOPHANTUS of Alexandria (fl. A.D. 250). Arithmeticorum libri sex, et de numeris multangulis liber unus, edited by Claude Bachet de Méziriac (1581-1638), commentary by Pierre de Fermat. Toulouse: Bernard Bosc, 1670. 2° (325 x 219mm). Engraved title-vignette by Rabault, text in Greek and Latin in double columns, commentary in Latin, single column, one engraved headpiece and one intial, woodcut head-and tailpieces (title browned and laid down, a few leaves at beginning lightly waterstained, final leaf a little spotted). Later half calf (repaired along joints and head and foot of spine, a little rubbed).

    Price Realised  

    FERMAT, Pierre de (1601-1665) -- DIOPHANTUS of Alexandria (fl. A.D. 250). Arithmeticorum libri sex, et de numeris multangulis liber unus, edited by Claude Bachet de Méziriac (1581-1638), commentary by Pierre de Fermat. Toulouse: Bernard Bosc, 1670. 2° (325 x 219mm). Engraved title-vignette by Rabault, text in Greek and Latin in double columns, commentary in Latin, single column, one engraved headpiece and one intial, woodcut head-and tailpieces (title browned and laid down, a few leaves at beginning lightly waterstained, final leaf a little spotted). Later half calf (repaired along joints and head and foot of spine, a little rubbed).

    FIRST EDITION OF FERMAT'S THEOREMS RELATING TO NUMBER THEORY, second edition of Bachet's Diophantus. Fermat showed not the slightest interest in publishing his work, which remained confined to his correspondence, personal notes, and to marginal jottings in a copy of the 1621 editio princeps, edited by Claude Bachet, of Diophantus' Arithmetica. Fermat's marginalia included not only arguments against some of Bachet's conclusions, but also new problems inspired by Diophantus. After his death, Fermat's eldest son Clément-Samuel published his father's marginalia in this new edition. Most famous of the 48 observations by Fermat included here is the first statement of the celebrated 'Last theorem'. The proposition, so simple in form, became known as the single most difficult problem in mathematics, and for over 300 years no mathematician succeeded either in disproving it or in finding Fermat's mysterious proof. In 1995 Andrew Wiles, professor of mathematics at Princeton, completed a 130-page proof of the theorem, using the most advanced techniques of modern mathematics. His achievement was described by fellow mathematicians as the mathematical equivalent 'of splitting the atom or finding the structure of DNA' (Singh, p.279). Norman 777; Simon Singh, Fermat's Enigma (New York, 1997); Smith, p. 348.


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