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I Had to Call In a Mathematician (2019)
Erik Talvila

This short story published in the Mathematical Intelligencer answers the age old question "What if math was more like plumbing?"

(quoted from I Had to Call In a Mathematician)

“Hi Janice. It’s Mort. I’ve got another problem here and I’ve had to call in a mathematician. I’m stuck at home until she’s done.”


The mathematician came over with a sheet of paper.

“It looks like someone was trying to use a contraction mapping here. That won’t work unless the target space is compact.”

“Oh, ah, I wonder how that got in there. One of the kids, maybe.” She rolled her eyes like I was an idiot.

“I’m not sure if this space is separable. Where did you get it?”

Thanks to Allan Goldberg for noticing this very funny story.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to I Had to Call In a Mathematician
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Gangs of New Math by Robert W. Vallin
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  4. Mathematically Bent by Colin Adams
  5. A Killer Theorem by Colin Adams
  6. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
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  10. The Killion by Ian Frazier
Ratings for I Had to Call In a Mathematician:
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Mathematical Content:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)