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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fermat's Last Theorem limericks

Weston High School held a math haiku contest, but maybe we should have had a math limerick contest instead. Here are some math limericks about the proof of Fermat’s last theorem (from a contest held at the University of Illinois at Chicago). One limerick has five stanzas, the other the traditional one stanza.
A mathematician named Wiles
Had papers stacked in large piles
Since he saw a clue
He could show Fermat true
Mixing many mathematical styles.

He labored in search of the light
To find the crucial insight
Young Andrew, it seems
Had childhood dreams
To prove Mr. Fermat was right.

He studied for seven long years
Expending much blood, sweat, and tears
After showing the proof
A sceptic said “Poof!
There's a hole here,” raising deep fears.

This shattered Mr. Wiles’s belief
His ship was wrecked on a reef
Then a quick switcheroo
Came out of the blue
Providing his mind much relief.

Mr. Wiles had been under the gun
But the obstacle blocking Proof One
Fixed a much older way
From an earlier day
And now Wiles has his place in the sun.
     By Jonathan Harvey

“My butter, garçon, is writ large in!”
a diner was heard to be chargin’.
“I HAD to write there,”
exclaimed waiter Pierre,
“I couldn’t find room in the margarine.”
     By Everett Howe, Hendrik Lenstra, and David Moulton

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