Talk:Andrew Wiles

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Crazy FLT Conspiracy Theories...[edit]

I know that this is a really crazy idea. I know that this will probably be horrifically unpopular to anyone with common sense (save, perhaps, fans of 'Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy'....But, given the audacious complexity of the FLT proof, given that there were mistakes made when it was intially published, given the small number of people (as a proportion of the human race, if not just in absolute numbers) who understand the FLT, given the prize money that has been at least suggested as a reward for FLT - is it not possibly, slightly (but not too slight) likely as it is conceivably possible and probable that there may be a small flaw in the proof that an automated theorem prover might be capable of picking up on? That is, has anyone run FLT through a computer for objective assessment?

Again, I re-iterate the notion that *this is a crazy suggestion*, and I probably don't know what I'm talking about (though enough to know that I don't understand the proof to FLT and need some Hitchhikian computer to blurt out '42' to convince me....). Further, this notion would probably not just concern the proof to FLT, but many areas of mathematics which very few people understand, but where 'obvious' and 'intuitive' assertions are relied upon.

....Just offering my tuppence's worth.....

--Wackydough


Dear Wackydough, It's certainly true that there are papers in the Mathematical literature which have been published, and then mistakes have been found years later. These are typically proofs which are either unclearly expressed or obscure. However, every detail of this proof has been poured over, initially by a small group of experts, and more recently by the wider Number Theory community. Although technical, it is a clearly expressed and checkable proof, and it would really be quite remarkable if any mistake were still overlooked. At a minimum, several hundred people are now able to understand the proof, and it is in the public domain. Even though this is a small fraction of the population, it is still too large and diverse a group of people for a conpiracy theory to be plausible. In fact, there would be strong incentive (in terms of kudos) for anyone who could have found a mistake. Furthermore, many researchers have been producing further results in this area recently, and it would be astonishing if they had not noticed a flaw in their follow-up research (and their follow-up research involves a considerable amount of going back through the techniques, and does not merely quote Wiles' results). Several more accessible versions of the proof have been published, and there is already a new generation of Number Theory PhD students and postdocs who have read the proof. I don't know anyone in the academic community (which is exceptionally cautious about these things) who has any doubts about the proof. As far as "automated theorem provers" go (or perhaps you mean "automated proof checkers" in this case), I'm afraid that we are way, way, way, way, ...... (you can add another few ways, if you like) below the level where these would be of any help. A substantial proof in Mathematics is expressed in sentences of normal language, embellished with technical terms, equations and references to previous lemmas (smaller preparatory results). There is no "proof checker" which comes even remotely close to being able to read a research article in Mathematics and check it. Attempting to re-express the proof in terms of a sequence of computer-checkable elementary steps would make the proof mind-bogglingly long (too long for this strategy to be viable). Anyway, I hope the above is of some use to you! Best regards, Victor.

External links modified[edit]

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Clare or Merton[edit]

It says he got his BA from Clare Cambridge but after that it says he studied his undergrad at Merton Oxford, then did graduate work at Clare Cambridge. I think the latter is correct.131.111.200.74 (talk) 02:42, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Reference[edit]

Can someone please add Simon Singh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_Last_Theorem_(book) as reference for the 'citation needed' in the Early life paragraph after "However, he soon realised that his knowledge was too limited, so he abandoned his childhood dream, until it was brought back to his attention at the age of 33 by Ken Ribet's 1986 proof of the epsilon conjecture, which Gerhard Frey had previously linked to Fermat's famous equation.[citation needed]"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 109.99.70.232 (talk) 21:03, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

Reasons for removing the "Popular Culture" section[edit]

Just wondering.-217.248.32.145 (talk) 10:48, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

As this is a BLP, unsourced content should probably be deleted, rather than commented out of sight or kept with a tag. - DVdm (talk) 10:58, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
Good point! Is that rule always applied or only for sensitive information? I wonder because the points listed would be harmless even if completely made up.-217.248.32.145 (talk) 11:02, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
Pretty much always when challenged. See also wp:BURDEN. - DVdm (talk) 11:05, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
Ok then.
For future reference: [1]. -217.248.32.145 (talk) 11:08, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
I hope you don't mind, but I have replaced your inclusion for future reference with a "diff". Makes it easier. By the way, what happens with such content is ultimately decided by wp:CONSENSUS here on the talk page. - DVdm (talk) 11:11, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
No problem, should have done that myself.
Thanks for the patient explanation! Believe me, that is not the way IPs are usually treated.-217.248.32.145 (talk) 12:04, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
Yes, some IPs are treated differently, usually the ones who behave more like IMPs Face-smile.svg. - DVdm (talk) 15:50, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
I wish that would be true. No, usually AGF is simply reversed for IP editors. I've had pages of discussions with named editors for minor common sense changes, only resolved by some form of dispute resolution. It's my impression that "losing" against an IP is seen by some editors as a blame on one's record that they could simply not cope with. Red mist seem to set in immediately and that prevents to differentiate common IP vandals from people like me.
Again, not at all the case here, and thanks again.-217.248.32.145 (talk) 16:27, 17 March 2016 (UTC)