In the 70s Fermat was no longer in fashion.
At the same time Andrew Wiles was just beginning his career as a mathematician.
He went to Cambridge as a research student under the supervision of Professor John Coates.
I've been very fortunate to have Andrew as a student,
and even as a research student he, he was a wonderful person to work with.
He had very deep ideas then, and it was always clear he was a mathematician who would do great things.
But not with Fermat. Everyone thought Fermat's last theorem was impossible,
so Professor Coates encouraged Andrew to forget his childhood dream and work on more mainstream maths.
When I went to Cambridge my advisor, John Coates,
was working on Iwasawa theory and elliptic curves and I started working with him.
Elliptic curves were the in thing to study, but perversely, elliptic curves are neither ellipses nor curves.
You may never have heard of elliptic curves, but they're extremely important.
OK, so what's an elliptic curve?
Elliptic curves -- they're not ellipses, they're cubic curves whose solution have a shape that looks like a doughnut.