a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
A pretty funny, silly story about a tailor with a mathematical bent who loses a needle in a haystack. Quite despondent about his chances of finding it, he decides to be mathematically rigorous in his search, by first formulating it as a well-defined problem in probability. Just then, a princess, who is not used to mathematics but quick on the uptake, shows up and offers to help. She recasts the problem as finding hay in a needlestack [and then setting n=1 as the order of the needlestack for the current problem]. After some jousting with mathematical symbols, she produces one straw of hay. The tailor then finds the needle but loses the princess, in a tickling twist to the tale in the final 3 sentences.
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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books
let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.
(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)