Contemporary methods for solving Diophantine equations (12ss131)


(University of British Columbia)

Nils Bruin (Simon Fraser Univeristy)

(Université de Strasbourg)

Bjorn Poonen (MIT)

(University of Warwick)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Contemporary methods for solving Diophantine equations" workshop from June 10th to June 17th, 2012.

Diophantine equations are equations where we are interested in solutions that

are whole numbers. They are named after Diophantus of Alexandria, a 3rd Century

Greek mathematician, although the subject is much older. For over 350 years, one

of the most famous problems in Mathematics had been "Fermat's Last Theorem",

named after Pierre de Fermat (1601--1665), which claims that a certain equation

similar to the Pythagorean equation has no solutions. This claim was finally

established by Andrew Wiles in 1995.

The recent methods introduced by Wiles and others to prove Fermat's Last Theorem

are applicable to many families of Diophantine equations. However, these

techniques are fairly abstract and beginners find the subject very difficult to

penetrate. Our summer school will introduce graduate students to these

contemporary methods and prepare them to apply them productively in their own


The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).