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Pierre De Fermat, French Mathematician
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Pierre de Fermat (August 17, 1601 or 1607 - January 12, 1665) was a French lawyer at the Parlement of Toulouse, France, and an amateur mathematician who is given credit for early developments that led to infinitesimal calculus, including his adequality. He is remembered for his discovery of an original method of finding the greatest and the smallest ordinates of curved lines, which is analogous to that of the then unknown differential calculus, and his research into number theory. He made notable contributions to analytic geometry, probability, and optics. He is best known for Fermat's Last Theorem, which he described in a note at the margin of a copy of Diophantus' Arithmetica. Fermat's pioneering work in analytic geometry was circulated in manuscript form in 1636, predating the publication of Descartes' famous La géométrie. Fermat was the first person known to have evaluated the integral of general power functions. Using an ingenious trick, he was able to reduce this evaluation to the sum of geometric series. The resulting formula was helpful to Newton, and then Leibniz, when they independently developed the fundamental theorem of calculus. Together with René Descartes, Fermat was one of the two leading mathematicians of the first half of the 17th century.
March 7th, 2013
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