At 16, Scholze learned that a decade earlier Andrew Wiles had proved the
famous 17th-century problem known as Fermat’s Last Theorem, which says that
the equation I understood nothing,
but it was really fascinating

, he said.

So Scholze worked backward, figuring out what he needed to learn to make
sense of the proof. To this day, that’s to a large extent how I learn

,
he said. I never really learned the basic things like linear algebra,
actually — I only assimilated it through learning some other stuff.