Wiles, 62, first became fascinated with the theorem as a 10-year-old growing up in Cambridge, England, after finding a copy of Fermat’s Last Theorem at his local library.
“I knew from that moment that I would never let it go,” he said. “I had to solve it.”
He spent seven years intensively working on the equation in secret while at Princeton University, finally cracking it in 1994 by combining the three complex mathematical fields of modular forms, elliptic curves, and Galois representations.
“I was very lucky that not only did I solve the problem, but I opened the door for a whole new era in my field,” said Wiles.
“Problems that had previously seemed inaccessible, now became open.”
“You never forget the moment you have these great breakthroughs — it’s what you live for,” he added.
**Story first reported by CNN**