a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
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The title of this short story refers both to arithmetic, a beloved subject of the school age child at its center, and the separation that his mother feels from him and his father due to the child's extraordinary mathematical abilities.
Catherine Nilson desperately wants to find something normal in her child, something she can identify with. However, Daniel is unusual. When he begins to notice the problems his parents are encountering, he makes a graph (shown in the story) to illustrate the relationship between their marriage status and what they have for breakfast. (I don't think the graph makes much sense. Does the author not understand the way to graph information or is this supposed to be the child's confusion? I'm guessing it is the former.) He gets excited about math:
Infinity gets mentioned twice in the story. Once in an opening quote from Fields medalist Timothy Gowers, and then again when Daniel inquires about the difference between "infinity" and "eternity" and tells his parents that "zero divided by zero" is not infinity, it just "isn't anything". The plot of the story revolves around Daniel's mother's belief that he has lied to her when he said that he was allowed to use a calculator in doing his math homework. She views this lie as a hint of normalcy in her child and clings to it, but at the same time goes in to see his math teacher and is disappointed to learn that Daniel was telling the truth. First published electronically in Zoetrope magazine, the story can also be found in the collection Fidelity. 
Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon.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.) 

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)