Documentaire sur le théorème de Fermat sous-titré par les terminales de la Section Européenne

Introduction to the documentary – Fermat’s last theorem (S. Singh)

Watching a math documentary can be very entertaining.

First of all, it improves our mathematics culture, which we tend to ignore. It is not a topic towards which we show any interest, as a rule, whether at school or in our free time. That is why, watching documentaries like this can awaken our curiosity: it helps us understand why we study this subject at school and its use in everyday life. Secondly, it proves that mathematics has a history and that some people are passionate about it. If we work on the documentary about Fermat’s Last Theorem, we can see that Andrew Wiles’ research was based on a childhood dream that he managed to achieve thanks to his perseverance for 7 years. Andrew’s way of working was also to keep his work secret until it was done not to draw too much attention to his research, which makes the resolution of the problem even more extraordinary. Imagine having a friend solving one of mathematics greatest problems and you weren’t even aware that he was working on it!!! Moreover, it shows that the history of mathematics is a long story that needs time and can have setbacks. When I talk about setbacks, I mean that the resolution of Fermat’s Last Theorem took more than three centuries between the time Fermat elaborated it and the time it was finally solved thanks to Andrew Wiles.

This documentary is also very interesting from a mathematical point of view. Fermat’s Last Theorem is a theorem that we have come across since we started studying the power of numbers but also triangles with Pythagoras’ theorem. It proves that some things as simple as the power of numbers are not always possible and involve some rules. We can also notice during the documentary that this theorem is fundamental for mathematics since without it, a lot of other theorems cannot be proved. Which makes this complex problem even more intriguing and makes the research for its solution even more worth it.

With the Group of the European Section in Terminale, after watching the documentary, we realized that it was not within the reach of everybody to understand it and grasp its importance, since it was in English. That is why, with the help of our math and English teachers, we have worked on French subtitles to help understand this fascinating documentary.

Blanche Hoareau, European Section, TG1