An Elementary, Pre-formal, Proof of FLT: Why is x^n+y^n=z^n solvable only for n<3?

Abstract

Andrew Wiles' analytic proof of Fermat's Last Theorem FLT, which appeals to geometrical properties of real and complex numbers, leaves two questions unanswered: (i) What technique might Fermat have used that led him to, even if only briefly, believe he had `a truly marvellous demonstration' of FLT? (ii) Why is x^n+y^n=z^n solvable only for n<3? In this inter-disciplinary perspective, we offer insight into, and answers to, both queries; yielding a pre-formal proof of why FLT can be treated as a true arithmetical proposition (one which, moreover, might not be provable formally in the first-order Peano Arithmetic PA), where we admit only elementary (i.e., number-theoretic) reasoning, without appeal to analytic properties of real and complex numbers. We cogently argue, further, that any formal proof of FLT needs---as is implicitly suggested by Wiles' proof---to appeal essentially to formal geometrical properties of formal arithmetical propositions.

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2021-04-08

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