Fermat's little theorem
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Fermat's "biggest", and also his "last" theorem states that xn + yn = zn has no solutions in positive integers x, y, z with n greater than 2.  This has finally been proven by Wiles in 1995.  However, in the study of primes it is Fermat's little theorem that is most used:

Fermat's Little Theorem.
Let p be a prime which does not divide the integer a, then ap-1 = 1 (mod p).
It is so easy to calculate ap-1 that most elementary primality tests are built using a version of Fermat's Little Theorem rather than Wilson's Theorem.

As usual, Fermat did not provide a proof (this time saying "I would send you the demonstration, if I did not fear its being too long" [Burton80, p79]).  Euler first published a proof in 1736, but Leibniz left virtually the same proof in an unpublished manuscript from sometime before 1683.

See Also: FermatQuotient

Related pages (outside of this work)

Chris K. Caldwell © 1999-2020 (all rights reserved)