|This is an ambitious novel, a magical fantasy about a talking parrot bought at a flea market in France who, with the help of the personal library of a reclusive mathematical genius, teaches some children (and the reader) about 2000 years of the history of mathematics. Though it was written originally written, I believe, in French (under the name Le theoreme du perroquet: roman), an English
version has recently been published.
The author, a professor of the history of science, specializes in the use
of fiction to develop scientific literacy. This novel is certainly a
masterpiece of this genre. The clever plot device of having a
non-mathematical bibliophile forced to look carefully through a collection of
mathematics books may succeed in interesting a general audience in the
history of mathematics. (I certainly learned some fascinating bits of
mathematical history myself!)
Note also that
people seem to really like this author's non-fiction.
You can read a review of the novel by Simon Singh
Here are some comments from visitors to this site:
"I am nearly finished with the book and I am amazed at how
exciting mathematics can be! The prose is gripping and the book is simply unputdownable.
By the way the history covered in this book is nearer to 5000 years than 2000."
"Some very good historical chapters
(e.g. those conveying the intellectual atmosphere and the
status of mathematics in ancient Alexandria and medieval
Baghdad), but on the whole the plot is too implausible, with
a rather loose thread."
"Picked this up while waiting in Stuttgart airport and it's spent most of its time in the 'little room' where our family reads since then. I read it regularly to my children (9 and 13) who are home schooled and it provokes many questions to which they enjoy discovering the answers. Certainly achieves its goal of being readable and exciting curiosity."
"Just great! is better than a novel, is
better than a history of math book! is a
"Really poor translation to czech
language, weak story...nice try of
popularisation of mathematics."
"the sophie's world of maths! enjoyed
the neatly encapsulated history of
maths, i found out a lot (though i
don't always understand what i read)
but what i really loved is the
camaraderie among the characters :)
i want a surrogate family like that too!"
As a teacher of Mathematics (Secondary UK) I loved the book.So many ideas and stories to make the subject come alive to school-age students. Sure the plot was a bit thin and implausible but if you look deep enough that can be said for most works of fiction. The trick is to play the 'Alice' card - make it magical enough and no-one seems to mind. I borrowed the book from a seventeen year old 'further maths' student of mine; I'm now going to try to convince the rest of the group they should read it.
Did I miss something: Short Stocky Guy, Tall Stock Guy - what's the reference
An enjoyable read, a good option for those who take pleasure in reading.
The Parrot's Theorem is a fun and highly informational read. The characters are well-rounded and plot is engaging. The work is well written and is a good demonstration of how Math in Fiction can be a useful tool for education.
Born in 1961 , I now know why I love numbers.
In 1961 the 100.000th decimal of ? was calculated.
What this has to do with the parrot, you need to read the book.
Remark : Can anyone help me find a dutch translation (to buy)?
i hate this book!!!!!!!!!! it's so boring it's not even funny. why even bother to right a math novel?? usless if you ask me!!!!
To the previous anonymous contributor:
I really enjoyed reading The Parrot's Theorem, but have no problem with the idea that you didn't. (I didn't like "The Da Vinci Code" and lots of other people did!) We're each entitled to our own tastes -- but not our own spellings. Watch out for that, eh?
I agree with the person who compared it to "Sophie's World" - it was a very enjoyable way to learn some history of math with a fairly engaging plot.
This is the book that got me hooked on math fiction. It is indeed math history incorporated in the plot of an adventure novel, but the draw is less literary and more scientific. The author has gotten better since then. I recommend his 2005 book "Zéro, ou les Cinq vies d'Aemer", a novel about the invention of the number Zero through the lives of five women, in five different epochs, all in Mesopotamia (or modern Iraq). It has already been translated in Greek , but I couldn't find an english translation online .
This provided a great way to view some of the important historical developments of mathematics.
Mediocre book - boring, but not as boring as some. It was bearable to read, but I would often put it down for something else. I'd rather do math problems than read about people exploring math.