Tidy sum for mathematician

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The Independent Online
The man who solved Fermat's Last Theorem, one of the oldest mathematics problems, has found it wasn't an abstract effort after all: he has won a prize worth pounds 125,000 in recognition of its use against computer eavesdropping.

Professor Andrew Wiles, 44, from Cambridge, works at Princeton University, in the US. In 1994 he solved the problem posed 350 years ago by Pierre de Fermat, who suggested the equation a^n + b^n = c^n [^n = superscript n, ie "a to the power n"] has no solutions. Yesterday Prof Wiles was awarded the 1998 King Faisal International Prize for Science. Though the problem initially appeared to have no practical application, scientists now under- stand it could be used to make communications over systems such as the Internet more secure.

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