a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
Matt Brown (Screenwriter and Director)

This biographical film starring Dev Patel as Ramanujan and Jeremy Irons as Hardy is based on the biography of the same name by Robert Kaniglel. Because it is a rather reliable adaptation of that non-fictional book, perhaps its inclusion on this list is questionable. However, there are some intentional variations from the known history which are taken with "poetic license", and in any case the specific dialogue and many other details are obviously the creation of Matt Brown and it is in that sense that I am classifying this as fiction.

The story of the untrained mathematician Ramanujan, his brilliant insights into number theory, his collaboration with British mathematicians Hardy and Littlewood, and his tragic death at a young age are all fascinating, but they are also already well-known to most people with an interest in mathematics. This film will hopefully help to bring the story to a wider audience.

George Andrews has written an informative review of ("report on"?) the film which appears in the AMS Notices.

Contributed by Anonymous

There is mention of a prime counting function, but the main mathematical focus is on a partition counting function. There is even an attempt to explain the notion of a partition. The partition counting function is more a tool to propel what little character development Ramanujan undergoes, rather than something that is explored. A cursory attempt is made to show Ramanujan's own relationship with mathematics. Maths is a present, but is not really developed at all. Since nothing in the film is though, I still consider math to be a main theme.

I don't know how much is known of Ramanujan, but after watching this film it seems like there must be very little source material. This film is poorly written. The characters are 2-dimensional and the whole thing just feels very rushed. Overall it's not terrible, but not good (I expect for the non-mathematically inclined viewer it would be worse).

More information about this work can be found at
(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 Man Who Knew Infinity
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt
  2. A Disappearing Number by Simon McBurney
  3. Partition by Ira Hauptman
  4. Ramanujan’s Miracles – A Drama To Demystify Mathematics by R.N. Kapur
  5. The Ishango Bone by Paul Hastings Wilson
  6. One Hundred Twenty-One Days by Michèle Audin (Author) / Christiana Hills (Translator)
  7. Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis
  8. The Bed and the Bachelor by Tracy Anne Warren
  9. The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem by Rinne Groff
  10. The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer
Ratings for The Man Who Knew Infinity:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Real Mathematics,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)