Time Magazine: Man of the Millennium

Craig Burley burley at tweedledumb.cygnus.com
Sat Sep 26 07:08:47 EST 1998


qed at pobox.com (Paul Hsieh) writes:

> Andrew Wiles spent 7 years in virtual solitude working by himself to 
> prove Fermat's last theorem after hundreds, if not thousands of 
> mathematicians before him tried and failed.  When I think about all the 
> other achievments of man, I can't think of one that compares in total 
> depth and intensity.  I think that this proof is the ultimate 
> intellectual trophy of man kind.

Hey, the guy set out to find something, and found something *else*.
Plus, he had the help of various good friends, wisely picked at
just the right point in the process, and well-managed.

Just kidding, sorta, I think his effort was really incredible (having
just watched the documentary, a TV being about as close as I've gotten
to "real math" in 20 years or so), but the proof hasn't exactly
*influenced* much, yet.

But, to pick someone who has undertaken a similar effort, that
started out solo, long-considered impossible, and has turned into
a vast effort by picking the right "friends" and managing the
project successfully, to the point where the "impossible" has been
achieved and is now having an impact beyond all predictions, how
about:

  Linus Torvalds

At least from a comp.arch point of view, he's probably done more for
the viability of "whatever architecture you want to create and
whatever machine you want to build, as long as it's cost-effective"
as anybody.

(Of course, Richard Stallman might deserve to be mentioned as well.)

But, I agree, Wiles' effort was really something.  I hope someday
somebody finds something that can be fairly deemed to be Fermat's
actual *proof*...

...or at least "Fermat's Last, Really Really Tiny, Pen".  :)
-- 

"Practice random senselessness and act kind of beautiful."
James Craig Burley, Software Craftsperson    burley at gnu.org



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