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Thomas Gray: Philosopher Cat (1988)
Philip J. Davis

Contributed by Jameela Lares, University of Southern Mississippi

As the jacket blurb explains, the book is "a philosophical fireside tale wrapped lightly around a mathematical problem, revealing scholarly life and attitudes at a well-known English college. It spins the clever tale of Thomas Gray, the (curiously named) female cat who douns herself (still more curiously) at Cambridge University helping a historian of mathematics with his research." The central mathematical puzzle is what a medieval manuscript says about the problem of Theodorus of Cyrene and the square root of seventeen.

The book is an engaging read, one I highly recommend for its literary merits. I cannot speak to its mathematical accuracy, but the author lists what look like respectable sources in his Acknowledgements.

I had to get my own copy of this book, even though it was out of print.

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Works Similar to Thomas Gray: Philosopher Cat
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Number 9: The Search for the Sigma Code by Cecil Balmond
  2. The Man Who Counted : A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan
  3. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  4. The Cat in Numberland by Ivar Ekeland (author) / John O'Brien (illustrator)
  5. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  6. Counting on Frank by Rod Clement
  7. Many Moons by James Thurber
  8. The Boy Who Reversed Himself by William Sleator
  9. Strange Attractors by William Sleator
  10. MathNet by Childrens Television Workshop
Ratings for Thomas Gray: Philosopher Cat:
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 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.5/5 (2 votes)

GenreChildren's Literature,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)