FLT proof fits on a shirt!


Around 1637, Pierre de Fermat wrote his Last Theorem in the margin of his copy of the Arithmetica next to Diophantus’ sum-of-squares problem:

It is impossible to separate a cube into two cubes, or a fourth power into two fourth powers, or in general, any power higher than the second, into two like powers. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

In May 1995, Andrew Wiles proved “Fermat’s Last Theorem” (FLT) ! To celebrate his achievement various conferences and meetings were organized. A Fermat’s Last Theorem T-shirt was designed for the Boston University meeting on FLT, August 9-18, 1995.  The T-shirt was designed by members of the 1995 PROMYS counselor staff who attended ” A Conference On Number Theory And Fermat’s Last Theorem ” . The conference was intended to be as accessible as possible to a general mathematical audience.  The conference focused on two major topics: (1) Andrew Wiles’ proof of the Taniyama-Shimura-Weil conjecture for semistable elliptic curves; and (2) the earlier works of Frey, Serre, and Ribet showing that Wiles’ Theorem would complete the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

PROMYS T-shirt which summarize the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem (with complete references on the back).

PROMYS T-shirt which summarize the proof of FLT, with complete references on the back.

Remarking on information printed on these T-shirts, Fernando Q. Gouvêa wrote following poem:

They said the proof was long and hard,
and painful to behold,
But at the conference at BU,
we got the real dirt.
The proof, it sure is tricky,
but its length isn’t so bold–
It doesn’t fit the margin,
but it does fit on a shirt.

There are many more poems on FLT: Fermat’s Last Theorem and Poetry (Lecturas Matem´aticas
Volumen 22 (2001), p´aginas 137–147)