Wiles and Fermat

What did it feel like proving Fermat’s last theorem after searching for a proof for so long?

It’s just fantastic. This is what we live for, these moments that create illumination and excitement. It’s actually hard to settle down and do anything – [you’re] living on cloud nine for a day or two. It was a little difficult at first to go back to the normal working life. I think it was hard to go back to normal problems.

Do you think your proof of Fermat’s last theorem was the beginning of something, rather than the end of something?

Well, it was both. So it was a finishing point for that particular classical romantic problem and that was the problem that drove me to mathematics and brought me to mathematics as a child, so it was an end of that childhood romantic view of mathematics.

What it began was it opened a little door to the Langland’s programme, and a new way of trying to get at results in the Langland’s programme. Opening that door, [has allowed] a lot of people to go through and develop it, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do too. … (Plus magazine)