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Conversations on Mathematics with a Visitor from Outer Space (1998)
David Ruelle
Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for math majors, math grad students (and maybe even math professors) and hardcore fans of science fiction.

As the title implies, this is a description of (presumably fictional) discussions that the author had with an alien about mathematics and, in particular, the way that Earth mathematics differs from the more advanced alien mathematics. The famous mathematical physicist David Ruelle wrote this piece with the apparent goal of demonstrating the extent to which peculiarities of the human mind have shaped our view of mathematics. It can be found both on the mp_arc archive and in the book Mathematics: Frontiers and Perspectives which was published as part of "World Mathematics Year 2000".

Contributed by Charles R Greathouse IV

This is certainly far more mathematical than even most mathematical fiction: mathematics is the subject matter rather than window-dressing. It concerns in particular mathematical practice rather than what axioms might be supposed or what things might be judged of interest, so insights 'from outside' of one type only. It is short, well-written, and interesting in its own peculiar way.

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 Conversations on Mathematics with a Visitor from Outer Space
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Report from the Ambassador to Cida-2 by Clifton Cunningham
  2. Dude, can you count? by Christian Constanda
  3. Incandescence by Greg Egan
  4. Dialógusok a matematikáról [Dialogues on Mathematics] by Alfréd Rényi
  5. Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward
  6. Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang
  7. Signal to Noise by Eric S. Nylund
  8. Q.E.D. by Bruce Stanley Burdick
  9. The Flight of the Dragonfly (aka Rocheworld) by Robert L. Forward
  10. Pop Quiz by Alex Kasman
Ratings for Conversations on Mathematics with a Visitor from Outer Space:
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:
4.67/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (2 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Didactic,
TopicReal Mathematics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)