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The Girl Who Played with Fire In this sequel to the stunningly popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , the self-taught, nearly autistic, young genius, Lisbeth Salander, once again becomes involved in a thrilling mystery allied with journalist Mikael Blomkvist. As a sort of side story, we see that she is also trying to find a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. She is shown as reading the famous math textbook "Dimensions in Mathematics" by Parnault.

However, as this blog from Harvard University Press explains, there is no such book or author. They, like Lisbeth herself, are fictional. In fact, it was an open problem for hundreds of years until Andrew Wiles finally completed a proof in It is a common popular belief that there must be some elementary proofs of the theorem out there either waiting to be discovered or known in secret as the story suggests. However, Wiles' proof is quite complicated depending on advanced mathematical knowledge of elliptic curves and modular functions which are not available to a casual puzzle solver and it seems likely that the statement cannot be proved in a much more elementary way at all.

The author makes a few disappointing mistakes in his description of FLT. He does not seem to realize, for instance, that the theorem states that there is no solution to the famous equation. Also, he claims that Wiles used "the world's most advanced computer program" in his famous resolution of the problem in the 's.

So far as I know, there was no computer assistance involved in Wiles' proof at all. In the end, Salander seems to realize that Fermat's solution was a sort of joke rather than anything mathematical at all, even suggesting that it would have been better solved by a philosopher than a mathematician. Since Fermat originally claimed and Wiles proved that there are no integer solutions, this doesn't make any sense to me at all. I mean, I think Larsson was trying to make a joke, but that he didn't understand the math enough and so his joke falls flat for anyone who even understands what FLT says.

This book seems to please readers as a thriller, gaining enormous popularity around the world after the author's untimely death, but as mathematical fiction I'm afraid I cannot recommend it. Contributed by Sarah Kate Magee Not math in fiction per say, but an excellent read that references math at a few places. Salander supposedly skips the proof of the conjecture in a general mathematics text she is reading in order to discover it for herself. Incidentally, there is a passing reference to Salander's involvement with the Fermat conjecture in the final novel of the sequence, "The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest".

Contributed by Jessica Instead of looking at it from a maths point of view, the author directs the reader to approach it as a riddle or puzzle, and specifically says it is similar to a rebus which is a puzzle in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters, or a type of pun. I don't know if Americans use the term "taking the piss" but it is basically having a subversive or mocking joke at someone else's expense. Contributed by Anonymous This is a excellent novel and Salander may be one of my favorite fictional heroines, so I was thrilled to read that we share a common interest in number theory.

Unfortunately, I too thought the presentation of the history of FLT was a bit off. And Lisbeth, read whatever you like; there are no spoilers to FLT. Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon. Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.


Dimensions in Mathematics

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Apparently it never existed. Too bad. Here is a blog entry from Harvard University Press. Parnault and apparently published by Harvard University Press in Parnault, for as far as we can tell, and if our memories and our computers have not completely failed us, HUP has in fact published no such work, in or at any other time. Thus it seems that Mr.

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