a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Cálculo Infinitesimal de una variable (1994)
Juan de Burgos Román
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Apparently, this Spanish calculus textbook begins each chapter with a "tale". I have not yet had a chance to see the book myself, and so I cannot say for certain whether these really are "fiction" or whether they are just drawn out examples. However, from what Octavio Agustin has written, they do not sound like any calculus textbook I have read:

Contributed by Octavio Alberto Agustín Aquino

Cálculo Infinitesimal de una variable McGraw-Hill, 1994

  • The fantastic bottle to lock up genies. (Analytic completion of the rational field via the real field)
  • The electrocardiograms of the one who does not have heart. (Behaviour of continuous functions)
  • The lunar flush of lycantropy. (Intepretation of the derivative)
  • The integro-roller of those who arrived flying. (Intepretation of the integral).
  • Brief conversation with one of the infinite aliens that populate the outer space. (Infinite series)
There is also a speech by Juan de Burgos Román from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid that consists in three little tales. It is written in Spanish, and as far as I know, it has not been translated to English or any other language. It is available at here. The first tale is about conics, the second is about the relationship between area and volume given a change of size, and the third is about probability.

Some of these stories (and I suppose that others too) where compiled in the book "Los relatos de Gudor Ben-Jusá", edited by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Unfortunately, I do not have this book. Perhaps if you include de Burgos Román in your list someone can comment on this work.

Of course, the whole book is not fiction as it is apparently a real calculus textbook. Only the introductory stories are arguably works of mathematical fiction. I have not read them all, but based on the one translation sent to me by Octavio Agustín, I must say that they are very nicely written and certainly go well beyond the usual "fictional examples" (e.g. "a farmer wants to fence a region in his field using material that costs...") and actually nicely mimic the style of Cervantes!

To give you an idea of the author's style, Octavio Agustín has translated a speech that de Burgos gave at the University of Madrid in 1995 containing three stories supposedly by Ben Jusá. Octavio also wrote to the author and obtained his permission for me to post it here: Download de Burgos' Commencement Address in PDF format.

See also the sequel Cálculo Infinitesimal de varias variables and the collection Los relatos de Gudor Ben Jusá.

(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 Cálculo Infinitesimal de una variable
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Cálculo Infinitesimal de varias variables by Juan de Burgos Román
  2. Los relatos de Gudor Ben Jusá: Cuentos y consejas con algo de matemáticas más son pocas y de las viejas by Juan de Burgos Román
  3. Gödel, Escher Bach: an eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter
  4. The Man Who Counted : A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan
  5. E-Z Calculus [Calculus by Discovery] by Douglas Downing
  6. Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki
  7. Turing (A Novel About Computation) by Christos Papadimitriou
  8. Letters to a Young Mathematician by Ian Stewart
  9. Il Bimbo e le Meraviglie Matematiche [The Child and the Wonder of Mathematics] by Letterio Gatto
  10. The Kissing Number by Ian Stewart
Ratings for Cálculo Infinitesimal de una variable :
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Mathematical Content:
4/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)


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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)