a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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La formule de Stokes, roman (2016)
Michèle Audin
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

The author, a professional mathematician as well as a member of the Oulipo literary group, wrote this unusual novel whose protagonist is not a person or animal but a formula. At least, that is what I conclude from the snippets of information I have gathered about it. Since I have not yet been able to obtain a copy (and would be severely limited by my lack of fluency in French even if I had), anything I say about the book below could well be wrong. But, in the interest of providing visitors to this site with as much information as I can, I will proceed nonetheless:

It seems that Stokes' theorem (which equates the integral of some form over the boundary of a geometric object with another integral of the derivative of the form over the entire object) is anthropomorphized here and described as "the heroine of the story". She is said to "wear different attire" as she appears to mathematicians Gauss, Bourbaki, Green, Kelvin, Stokes, Riemann and Cartan. Historical events and dramatic locations may form the backdrop, but the development of this mathematical idea through to its most modern form apparently is the plot.

I do look forward to reading this book someday and will post more information about it when I have been able to do so. Until then, if you are someone who has been lucky enough to read it, please share your thoughts with the rest of us by writing to me at and I will happily post your remarks here.

Oh, I almost forgot: Although I knew of Michele Audin's mathematical research already, because it is in my own field of integrable systems, I did not know that she was writing fiction until it was brought to my attention by Allyn Jackson of the American Mathematical Society. Thank you, "axj"!

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to La formule de Stokes, roman
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Who Killed the Duke of Densmore? by Claude Berge
  2. The Princess Hoppy or the Tale of Labrador by Jacques Roubaud
  3. One Hundred Twenty-One Days by Michèle Audin (Author) / Christiana Hills (Translator)
  4. A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel by Gaurav Suri / Hartosh Singh Bal
  5. Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery by Arturo Sangalli
  6. Pythagorean Crimes by Tefcros Michaelides
  7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  8. The Parrot's Theorem by Denis Guedj
  9. Sophie's Diary by Dora Musielak
  10. The Shackles of Conviction by James R. Meyer
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GenreHistorical Fiction, Didactic,
MotifProving Theorems, Real Mathematicians,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Analysis/Calculus/Differential, Real Mathematics,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)