Oxford Mathematics's Professor Andrew Wiles has been awarded the Copley Medal, the Royal Society's oldest and most prestigious award. The medal is awarded annually for outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science and alternates between the physical and biological sciences.
Andrew Wiles is one of the world's foremost mathematicians. His proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in the 1990s catapulted him to unexpected fame as both the mathematical and the wider world were gripped by the solving of a 300 year-old mystery. In 1637 Fermat had stated that there are no whole number solutions to the equation $x^n + y^n = z^n$ when n is greater than 2, unless xyz=0. Fermat went on to claim that he had found a proof for the theorem, but said that the margin of the text he was making notes on was not wide enough to contain it.
After seven years of intense study in private at Princeton University, Andrew announced he had found a proof in 1993, combining three complex mathematical fields – modular forms, elliptic curves and Galois representations. However, he had not only solved the long-standing puzzle of the Theorem, but in doing so had created entirely new directions in mathematics, which have proved invaluable to other scientists in the years since his discovery.
Educated at Merton College, Oxford and Clare College, Cambridge, where he was supervised by John Coates, Andrew made brief visits to Bonn and Paris before in 1982 he became a professor at Princeton University, where he stayed for nearly 30 years. In 2011 he moved to Oxford as a Royal Society Research Professor. Andrew has won many prizes including, in 2016, the Abel Prize, the Nobel Prize of mathematics. He is an active member of the research community at Oxford, where he is a member of the eminent number theory research group. In his current research he is developing new ideas in the context of the Langlands Program, a set of far-reaching conjectures connecting number theory to algebraic geometry and the theory of automorphic forms.