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Getting Rid of Fluff (1908)
Ellis Parker Butler

A humorous story in which two men formulate a mathematical "law of scared dogs" to help in frightening away an annoying dog named Fluff.

(quoted from Getting Rid of Fluff)

"I bet if Sir Isaac Newon had had Fluff as long as you have had him he would have had a formula all worked out -

x ÷ y (2 × z - dog)= 2(4ab-3x)

or something of that kind, so that anyone with half a knowledge of algebra could figure out the square root of any dog any time of the day or night. I could get up a Law of Dog myself if I had the time, with a dog like Fluff to work on. If one dog travels fourteen hundred and forty miles at the sight of a gun, how far would two dogs travel? All that sort of thing. Stop!" he ejaculated suddenly. "If one dog travels forty-eight hours at the sight of a gun, how far would he travel at the sight of two guns? Murchison," he cried enthusiastically, "I've got it! I've got the fundamental law of periodicity in dogs! Go get your gun," he said to me, "and I will get mine."

After some experimentation with a variety of numbers of guns, they determine that the time a dog will be gone would be inversely proportional to the number of guns. Hence, they later conclude:

(quoted from Getting Rid of Fluff)

Well, the inverse ratio to no guns is infinite time -- that is how long Fluff will be gone; that is how long he will run. Why, that dog will never stop running while there is any dog left in him. He can't help it -- it is the law of scared dogs.

Thanks to Douglass Keeslar for bringing it to my attention.

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Works Similar to Getting Rid of Fluff
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Refund by Fritz Karinthy (original) / Percival Wilde (English Adaptation)
  2. She Wrote the Book by Oscar Brodney (writer) / Warren Wilson (writer) / Charles Lamont (director)
  3. The Geometrics of Johnny Day by Nelson Bond
  4. Coconuts by Ben Ames Williams
  5. The Papers of A.J. Wentworth, B.A. by Humphry Francis Ellis
  6. Slightly Perfect / Are you with it? by George Malcolm-Smith (Novel) / Sam Perrin (Script) / George Balzer (Script)
  7. The Chair of Philanthromathematics by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
  8. Mathematician Proof by Ralph Ellison de Castro
  9. Paul Bunyan versus the Conveyor Belt by William Hazlett Upson
  10. A. Botts and the Moebius Strip by William Hazlett Upson
Ratings for Getting Rid of Fluff:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)