For reference, the Feit-Thompson Theorem states that every finite group of odd order is necessarily solvable. Equivalently, the theorem states that there exist no non-abelian finite simple groups of odd order.
I am well aware of the complexity and length of the proof. However, would it be possible to provide a rough outline of the ideas and techniques in the proof? More specifically, the sub-questions of this question are:
Are the techniques in this proof purely group-theoretic or are techniques from other areas of mathematics borrowed? (Such as, for example, other branches of algebra.) In the same vein, how great an influence do the techniques (if any) from number theory and combinatorics have on the proof? (Here "combinatorics" is of course not very specific. I should emphasize that I mean "tools from combinatorics that are pure and solely derived from techniques within the area of combinatorics and that do not require "deep" group theory to derive". Similarly for "number theory".)
What sorts of "character-free" techniques and ideas exist in the proof? Does a character-free proof of this result exist? (Since I suspect the answer to the latter is in the negative, I am primarily interested in an answer to the former.)
What are the underlying "intuitions" behind the proof? That is, how does one come up with such a proof, or at least, certain parts of it? This is a rough question of course; "coming up" with things in mathematics is very difficult to describe. However, since the argument is so long, I suspect some sort of inspiration must have driven the proof.
I have observed in group theory that many arguments naturally divide into "cases" and often the individual cases are easy to tackle and the arguments naturally "flow". Of course, here I speak of arguments whose lengths are no more than a few pages. Does the proof of the Feit-Thompson theorem share the same "structure" as smaller proofs, or is the proof structurally unique?
How often do explicit "elementwise computations" arise in the proof?
Is there any hope that one day someone might discover a considerably shorter proof of the Feit-Thompson Theorem? For example, would the existence of a proof of this theorem less than 50 or so pages be likely? (A proof making strong use of the classification of finite simple groups, or any other non-trivial consequence of the Feit-Thompson Theorem, does not count.) If not, why is it so difficult in group theory to provide more concise arguments?
While I have Gorenstein's excellent book entitled Finite Groups at hand, I did not go far enough (when I was reading it) to actually get into the "real meat" of the discussion of the Feit-Thompson theorem; that is, to actually get a sense of the mathematics used to prove the theorem. Nor do I intend to do so in the near future. (Don't get me wrong, I would be really interested to see this proof, but it seems too much unless you intend to research finite group theory or a related area.)
Thank you very much for any answers. I am aware that some aspects of this question are imprecise; I have tried my best to be as clear as possible in some cases, but there might still be possible sources of ambiguity and I apologize if they are. (If there are, I would appreciate it if you could try to look for the "obvious interpretation".) Also, I have a relatively strong background in finite group theory (but not a "research-level" background in the area) so feel free to use more complex group-theoretic terminology and ideas if necessary, but if possible, try to give an exposition of the proof that is as elementary as possible. Thanks again!