1996 Common Wealth Award for Science and Invention
British-born mathematician Andrew Wiles, a professor at Princeton University, received the 1996 Common Wealth Award for science and invention for solving Fermat's Last Theorem, an equation that perplexed mathematicians for centuries. He astonished the worlds mathematical community in 1993 when he unveiled his solution to the 350-year-old problem. In 1987, Wiles began his tortuous journey to prove that for each whole number 'n,' greater than 2, the equation xn+yn=zn has no solutions which are positive whole numbers. Wiles, 42, collaborated with Richard L. Taylor, a former student, to present two lengthy manuscripts justifying the proof to the theorem in 1993. He earned his B.S. from Oxford University and Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Following in the footsteps of his father, Wiles went on to become an assistant professor at Harvard University. In 1982 he became a lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Studies and professor of mathematics at Princeton.