MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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X+Y (A Brilliant Young Mind) (2014)
Morgan Matthews (Director) / James Graham (Writer)
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An autistic teenager learns to deal with the death of his father and his first romance as he represents Britain in the International Mathematical Olympiad.

This film is very loosely based on the story of Daniel Lightwing who won a silver medal in the IMO and married a Chinese competitor he met there, but as it is often described as being "based on a true story" I think people watching it will mistakenly assume that the portrayal is much more accurate than it really is. If you watch this movie, and I do recommend it as the writing, acting and direction are all excellent, please keep in mind that it is really a work of fiction.

Thanks to Allan Goldberg for bringing it to my attention.

Contributed by CJ

As someone experiencing autism and also participates avidly in math contests, it hits close to home. The depiction of math camp is stunningly close to real life; perhaps sans the cutthroat competition, though those kind of people do exist. To be honest it was quite painful to watch because it was too relatable, but in a good way. The only thing off was the ending, which I felt was quite saccharine and cloying. Still a great movie.

Contributed by Laura

The acting and production of this movie are excellent. I wish the writers had stayed closer to the true story, however, instead of perpetuating the usual tiresome (and false) stereotypes regarding mathematical ability. In particular, the boy's mother is portrayed as a complete dunce with regard to math, unsure whether the number 48 is prime or not without referring to a card she carries. In reality, Daniel Lightfoot's mother was a math and science teacher. Even more inexplicably, the character of his long time math tutor that helps him compete for a spot on the British Mathematical Olympiad team is changed from a woman, Miggy Biller in real life, to a man with Multiple sclerosis so that he limps (message- to be a brilliant mathematician you have to be an awkward male). I would like for once see a story about a brilliant mathematician who is a sane, typically adjusted person, male or female. There were a couple supporting characters in the film that fit that description. What about their stories?

More information about this work can be found at www.imdb.com.
(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 X+Y (A Brilliant Young Mind)
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Question 3 by Martin Sandahl (Director and Writer)
  2. A Desirable Middle by Susan Sechrist
  3. My Heart Belongs to Bertie by Helen DeWitt
  4. Gifted by Marc Webb (director) / Tom Flynn (writer)
  5. The Countable by Ken Liu
  6. The Trachtenberg Speed System by Buzz Mauro
  7. The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree by Michael Swanwick
  8. The Mathematics of Friedrich Gauss by D.W. Wilson
  9. The Clueless Girl's Guide to Being a Genius by Janice Repka
  10. The Invention of Ana [Forestillinger om Ana Ivan] by Mikkel Rosengaard
Ratings for X+Y (A Brilliant Young Mind):
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 (3 votes)
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Literary Quality:
3.67/5 (3 votes)
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Categories:
Genre
MotifProdigies, Autism, Romance, Math Education,
Topic
MediumFilms,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)