A necessary condition for a local extremum of a real-valued function. Suppose that a real-valued function $f$ is defined in a neighbourhood of a point $x_0\in\mathbf R$ and is differentiable at that point. If $f$ has a local extremum at $x_0$, then its derivative at $x_0$ is equal to zero: $f'(x_0)=0$. Geometrically this means that the tangent to the graph of $f$ at the point $(x_0,f(x_0))$ is horizontal. A condition equivalent to this for extrema of polynomials was first obtained by P. Fermat in 1629, but it was not published until 1679.
Fermat theorem. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL: http://encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=Fermat_theorem&oldid=31853