(August 17, 1601 – January 12, 1665)
Pierre de Fermat was a lawyer who treated mathematics as hobby. His inspirations could be traced back to the works of Diophantus of Alexandria, Gerolamo Cardano, and François Viète. Like Blaise Pascal and Christiaan Huygens, he preferred jotting randomly to publishing coherently. Notwithstanding, evidence showed that he was an ingenious mathematician who propounded some of the most complex and difficult theorems ever encountered. His works on Adequality led directly to the development of Infinitesimal Calculus. Isaac Newton acknowledged that he got Calculus ideas from Fermat’s methods of dealing with tangents. Together with Pascal, Fermat is recognized as founder of Theory of Probabilities. Although he is famous today for his Last Theorem, which he scribbled as an insignificant note on the margins of a book: Diophantus’ Arithmetica, my research-findings confirmed that he was a consummate mathematician. Apart from laying the foundations of Calculus and Theory of Probabilities, he helped develop Number Theory, Analytical Geometry and Geometrical Optics. He was so adept in maths as to point-out the invalidity of one of the analyses René Descartes made. This instigated a squabble which prompted Descartes to say disparaging things about Fermat and Pascal. Fermat shrugged him off; remained a pacesetter, and is widely regarded as the most brilliant mathematician of his time. Even Pascal admired his brilliance, and corresponded regularly with him. His theorems were so abstruse and revolutionary that whoever proved any of it (partially or fully) gained veneration. These include top icons such as: Euler, Gauss, Cauchy and Dirichlet.