MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Continuity (1999)
Buzz Mauro
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
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Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for literati.

This short story cleverly uses the δ-ε definition of continuity of a function to discuss the changing self-esteem of a character over time. After briefly recalling the rigorous definition, it introduces Thomas Henneck's "self-esteem function" and tells his life story in remarks such as

(quoted from Continuity)

Tom’s highest recorded self-esteem rating occurred when he was 10.4398679 years old. He had recently been voted president of the fifth grade, been invited to a party by Mark Davis, failed a math test, seen a picture of a dissected cat, had lasagna for dinner, and been praised by his teacher for his diligence in washing his hands. His self-esteem rating was 51.043.

and ponders philosophical questions such as

(quoted from Continuity)

Can the graph of Tom’s self-esteem values be drawn without lifting the pencil from the page? Is there indeed a δ for every ε? Or, on the other hand, is it possible to jump from one self-esteem value to another without hitting the values in between, leaving holes in the graph, rifts in the stream of cause-and-effect? Can one love oneself one instant and hate oneself the next, or must there be a steady decline?

Based on my knowledge of the rest of Mauro's writings, I agree with his comments when he wrote to me:

Contributed by Buzz Mauro

It's probably the most mathematical of all my stories in some ways. (Also the least traditional as far as plot goes.)

Published in Columbia, Issue 32, Summer 1999.

(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 Continuity
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson by Halvor Aakhus
  2. Problems for Self-Study by Charles Yu
  3. The Axiom of Choice by David W. Goldman
  4. Problems by John Updike
  5. The Last Theorem by Buzz Mauro
  6. Zero by Buzz Mauro
  7. Fractions by Buzz Mauro
  8. Long Division by Buzz Mauro
  9. Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
  10. Towel Season by Ron Carlson
Ratings for Continuity:
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:
4/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
Genre
Motif
TopicAnalysis/Calculus/Differential, Real Mathematics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)