MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Kapitoil (2010)
Teddy Wayne
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It is 1999 and Karim Issar is a Qatari programmer who has just moved to NYC to work on Wall Street. Karim understands the world through mathematics and equations, and wishes others did as well. He does not understand why people cannot correctly evaluate the relative fuel efficiencies of air versus automobile travel, and enjoys it when his romantic interest attempts to communicate in the form of an equation. He compares the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to the feeling one gets when mathematics reveals a hidden truth about the seeming chaos of the universe. And, he is able to write a computer program which successfully predicts oil prices based on political instabilities in different countries around the world.

It is this last bit, the program for predicting oil prices, which is the primary focus of the novel, but mathematical ideas permeate it, as do a somewhat typical "math nerd learns to be sociable" subplot and a nostalgia for a simpler pre-9/11 worldview.

Contributed by Heather

This is an interesting novel and a good read. It is set before 9/11 and the financial crisis but addresses both of these. I've rated math as central to the work because the novel hinges on a mathematical computer program that the central character devises and on what happens to this. Mathematics, how it's used and who owns it drive the narrative.

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(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 Kapitoil
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Bank by Robert Connolly
  2. Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
  3. Risqueman by Mike Wood
  4. The Axiom of Choice by David Corbett
  5. The Solitude of Prime Numbers [La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi] by Paolo Giordano
  6. Zero by Buzz Mauro
  7. Le larmes de saint Laurent (Wonder) by Dominique Fortier
  8. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar / Akiva Goldsman
  9. Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital
  10. Do the Math: A Novel of the Inevitable by Philip Persinger
Ratings for Kapitoil:
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 (3 votes)
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Literary Quality:
3.67/5 (3 votes)
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Categories:
Genre
MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Future Prediction through Math, Romance,
TopicMathematical Finance,
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)