I have the following question I'd like to ask:

"Which claims made by Fermat have had published proofs using math available in his time?"

This brings up several issues:

  1. Is MSE the right forum for this question? Should it be in a community wiki or some other place?
  2. Fermat made a lot of claims — I know many, but probably not all, of them. Should each claim be assigned an answer, with comments reserved for links to proofs? Or should each claim get its own question, with answers reserved for links to proofs and comments reserved for items related to that particular proof/answer? If the latter, how can I link all of the questions together into one big question, especially if others are allowed (encouraged!) to add claims?


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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a question which will have been well studied and would nicely fit under the math-history tag. An answer may well be something along the lines of 'all except the last' as, after all, it was called his last theorem as it was the last to be independently proved. $\endgroup$ – Dan Rust Sep 29 '13 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielRust: Actually, most of Fermat’s "theorems" (i.e. claims) have not had published proofs using math available in his time. Some of the "simpler" ones have (e.g., no four squares in arithmetic progression), but the majority have not — for example, the solution to the Mordell equation $y^2 = x^3-2$ is, according to Franz Lemmermeyer, “maybe not even solvable using the mathematics known in [Fermat’s] times”. $\endgroup$ – Kieren MacMillan Sep 29 '13 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO, if we are to give any credibility to striving to be a "library of detailed answers to every question about maths" (including maths history), this question, or collection of questions, should be very warmly welcomed. As to the specific way we do this, I don't know. It seems to make more sense for every claim to have its own question. There could be more than one proof, a nice touch of history, or plainly a beautiful proof using contemporary mathematics deserving to be posted as an answer. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Sep 29 '13 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: I'm glad you see the merit. I intuitively believe — as you say — that each claim should have its own thread. However, that begs the question of how (short of back-linking all questions as they get added) to link all the questions under one "topic". Any help on that question would be welcome. $\endgroup$ – Kieren MacMillan Sep 29 '13 at 18:49

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