MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Mathematics of Being Human (2015)
Michelle Osherow / Manil Suri
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
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A math professor and a literature professor attempt to collaborate on an interdisciplinary course in this semi-autobiographical one act play.

To begin with, I should admit that nearly everything I know about this play I learned from Stephen Abbott's review in the AMS Notices. It has only been performed a few times (at the 2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings, at the National Museum of Mathematics and at a few universities), and I have not yet had a chance to see it myself.

Manil Suri is a mathematician who has won awards for his fiction (and is already listed on this site as an author of mathematical fiction). Together with Michelle Osherow, an English professor and director of the Jewish Studies program, he taught an interdisciplinary course at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. That experience inspired this play in which such a course is taught by the fictional characters "Mike Pearson" and "Naomi Kessler". The play apparently not only explores the topics of the class, but also the conflict between the two instructors and their philosophies.

The most intriguing thing to me about this play (which, as I remind you, I have not seen) is that it is not merely a work of mathematical fiction, but more specifically a work about mathematical fiction. In one scene quoted in Abbott's review, the characters attempt to select works of fiction to include in the syllabus. Pearson suggests Logicomix and Flatland, and Kessler suggests A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting, but each rudely and abruptly rejects the other's proposals with the honk of a party horn.

More information about this work can be found at www.ams.org.
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to The Mathematics of Being Human
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
  2. The Romance of Mathematics: Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College... by Peter Hampson Ditchfield
  3. Flatterland: like Flatland, only more so by Ian Stewart
  4. Into Thin Air by Colin Adams
  5. Zombies and Calculus by Colin Adams
  6. A Foundation in Wisdom by Robert Loyd Watson
  7. Dude, can you count? by Christian Constanda
  8. Euclid and His Modern Rivals by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll)
  9. Uncle Georg's Attic by Ben Schumacher
  10. Calculus and Pizza by Clifford Pickover
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Categories:
GenreHumorous, Didactic,
MotifAcademia, Math Education,
Topic
MediumPlays,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)