
21 (2008) 
 Robert Luketic (Director) 

As I understand it, the book by Ben Mezrich which inspired this film is nonfiction. It told the true story (though using pseudonyms) of a team comprised of an MIT math professor and six MIT students... (more) 


7 Steps to Midnight (1993) 
 Richard Matheson 

In this unnerving, `Kafkaesque' suspense novel by well known horror author Richard Matheson, a government mathematician sees reality collapse around him as his life is turned into a surrealistic version... (more) 


Advanced Calculus of Murder (1988) 
 Erik Rosenthal 

In the second book in the Dan Brodsky series (following Calculus of Murder by the same author), Brodsky is invited to COTCA (the Conference on Operator Theory and C*Algebras at Oxford University). While... (more) 


The Adventure of the Russian Grave (1995) 
 William Barton / Michael Capobianco 

Even in the old Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock Holmes' archnemesis was a mathematician. Moriarty was said to be a math professor who (when he wasn't being evil) worked on the binomial theorem and... (more) 


Aurora in Four Voices (1998) 
 Catherine Asaro 

Jato is trapped in Nightingale, a city in permanent
darkness, inhabited by mathematical artists who mostly ignore him. Soz
arrives to repair her ship, meets Jato, and finds... (more) 


Bad Boy Brawley Brown (2002) 
 Walter Mosley 

This is the sixth book in the highly praised Easy Rawlins mysteries
that began with DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS. They are set in postWWII
black Los Angeles, and unfold over the years. (The... (more) 


Beyond the Limit: The Dream of Sofya Kovalevskaya (2002) 
 Joan Spicci 

This book is a novelized account of the life of
Sofia Kovalevskaya (aka Sonia Kovalevskey and infinitely1 many alternative
spellings), famous today as the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in
mathematics.... (more) 


Bloom (1998) 
 Wil McCarthy 

In between blooms of a deadly manmade fungus, the humans discuss cellular automata (especially Conway's Game of Life) and complexity theory.
Thanks to Rob Milson for suggesting this book.
(more) 


Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson (2012) 
 Halvor Aakhus 

Halvor Aakhus, who has an undergraduate degree in math and an MFA in writing, wrote this unusual work of fiction that takes the form of a novel by an apparently dead author named Knut Knudson which has... (more) 


Brain Wave (1954) 
 Poul Anderson 

This debut novel from SF superstar Anderson explains that the human
intelligence is far more powerful than we have thus far seen. In fact,
once we escape from the effects of a force field that is limiting... (more) 


Calculus (Newton's Whores) (2004) 
 Carl Djerassi 

The credit for the invention of calculus has long been contested, being claimed by both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. A committee established by the Royal Society in 1712 concluded that Newton was... (more) 


Calculus and Pizza (2003) 
 Clifford Pickover 

A pizza chef teaches calculus to his restaurant patrons. Romance and hilarity ensue.
(more) 


Calculus of Murder (1986) 
 Erik Rosenthal 

"The hero is a parttime instructor and
researcher at Berkeley and moonlights as a PI. He solves his cases
using calculus. The narrative is excellent, humorous, and believable."
Actually, I just... (more) 


Cálculo Infinitesimal de una variable
(1994) 
 Juan de Burgos Román 

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... (more) 


Cálculo Infinitesimal de varias variables
(1995) 
 Juan de Burgos Román 

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... (more) 


Continuity (1999) 
 Buzz Mauro 

This short story cleverly uses the δε definition of continuity of a function to discuss the changing selfesteem of a character over time. After briefly recalling the rigorous definition, it introduces... (more) 


Convergent Series (1979) 
 Larry Niven 

According to
the liner notes, Niven received an undergraduate degree in
mathematics. Mostly the degree has only apparently inspired his
titles (note also the book called "The Integral Trees") without
noticeably... (more) 


Coyote Moon (2003) 
 John A. Miller 

Well, this book is hard to describe! It's certainly different and not easily categorizable. It is a novel that addresses the question "What if a young, nerdy, MIT mathematics professor died of cancer... (more) 


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 
 Robert Wise (director) / Harry Bates (story) /
Edmund H. North 

One must wonder how aliens might communicate with humans when and if they arrive on Earth. In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the extraterrestrial Klaatu (Michael Rennie) introduces himself... (more) 


D'Alembert's Principle: A Novel in Three Panels (2000) 
 Andrew Crumey 

A fictionalized presentation of the life (and love) of Jean le Rond
D'Alembert (17171783), best known  to me at least  as the first
to study and solve the famous linear wave equation u_xx + c u_tt = 0.
See the online
bookreview at at MAA Online. (more) 


El matemático (1988) 
 Arturo Azuela 

It is a kind of bildungsroman narrated by a sexagenarian mathematician who makes a mathematical discovery in the verge of the year 2000. Of course, there is the detail of considering the year 2000 the... (more) 


An Elegant Solution (2013) 
 Paul Robertson 

A fictionalized account of the life of Leonhard Euler, focusing on his relationship with the Bernoullis and told from the perspective of Christian theology. The novel also takes on aspects of a murder... (more) 


Fear of Math (1985) 
 Peter Cameron 

A feathertouch story about a young woman who comes to New York to do an MBA  and has to pass a Calculus course, a prerequisite for an MBA. A brief description of how utterly lost she is after her... (more) 


Forever Changes (2008) 
 Brendan Halpin 

A very somber novel written for young adults about a mathematically talented teenager with cystic fibrosis. Her math teacher helps comfort her by making an analogy between the important role of the infinitesimals in calculus and the importance of even a short life. (more) 


La formule de Stokes, roman (2016) 
 Michele Audin 

The author, a former mathematician who is now part of the Oulipo literary group, wrote this unusual novel whose protagonist is not a person or animal but a formula. At least, that is what I conclude from... (more) 


G103 (2006) 
 Oliver Tearne (director) 

This short film "shows a surreal day in the life of a mathematics undergraduate" taking the math course G103 at the University of Warwick. In fact, the Website makes it sound as if it is an informational... (more) 


Gallactic Alliance  Translight! (2009) 
 Doug Farren 

A human scientist invents a new branch of mathematics, "continuum calculus", as the basis for a stardrive. At one point, he compares his mathematical constructions with those of an alien species who have... (more) 


The Gangs of New Math (2005) 
 Robert W. Vallin 

This humorous short story about a brawl in a pub of mathematicians appeared in the November 2005 issue of Math Horizons magazine. There is quite a bit of "mathematical namedropping" in the form of quick... (more) 


The Genius (1901) 
 Nikolai Georgievich GarinMikhailovskii 

The Russian Engineer N.G. Mikhailovskii (18521906) was also an accomplished author using the pseudonym "N.G. Garin". His short story, "The Genius", tells about an Jewish man who fills his notebooks with... (more) 


Georgia on My Mind (1995) 
 Charles Sheffield 

The story has to do with Babbage's
Analytical Engine and a remote region of Antarctica (the "Georgia"
of the title). The mathematics bit, aside from Babbage, consists
of a nonlinear optimization... (more) 


The God Patent (2009) 
 Ransom Stephens 

After his life falls apart, an engineer tries to revive a collaboration with the fundamentalist Christian with whom he once wrote two patents based on the Bible. While he viewed these patents for what... (more) 


The Hollow Man (1993) 
 Dan Simmons 

A psychic mathematician is driven to the edge of insanity as his life partner approaches death. The mathematician's research is described explicitly  as are some of the horrific events that befall... (more) 


Infinite Jest (1996) 
 David Foster Wallace 

The twenty page passage on Eschaton, with the Mean
Value Theorem footnote, is possibly the best use of mathematics in fiction I've
ever seen.
this book has some of the most interesting and complete... (more) 


Infinitely Near (1999) 
 Anthony Cristiano 

An 8 minute long, black and white film with no dialogue showing intertwined scenes of a student having trouble with the concept of a limit in his calculus class and other scenes from his life. The director... (more) 


The Integral: A Horror Story (2009) 
 Colin Adams 

This story, which he claims is an attempt to emulate Stephen King, is different from many of Adams' others. This may explain why it was published for the first time in his 2009 collections Riot at the... (more) 


The Lady's Code (2006) 
 Samantha Saxon 

The third in a series of romance novels about intelligent, confident women, The Lady's Code features Lady Juliet Pervell, who has ruined her reputation in social circles but earned an honorary degree in... (more) 


Leap (2004) 
 Lauren Gunderson 

This play explores the inspiration for Isaac Newton's amazing discoveries in 1664, personifying it in the form of two young girls whose playful interaction leads to the results we remember Newton for today.... (more) 


Let Newton Be! (2011) 
 Craig Baxter 

The three actors in this play portray Isaac Newton at three different stages of his life, as well as occasionally representing other people. Interestingly, the three Newton's interact with each other,... (more) 


Letters to a Young Mathematician (2006) 
 Ian Stewart 

I listed this one here before I had a chance to read it and am now wondering whether it should be counted as fiction at all. This is an excellent book which provides a lot of useful information about... (more) 


The Limit of Delta Y Over Delta X (1994) 
 Richard Cumyn 

Here is a calculus example from a book with a title that can not
be more mathematical. I printed this one in a calculus book that I
wrote for my business/economics calculus class. I also read it out... (more) 


Little Zero the Seafarer [Captain One's frigate] (1968) 
 Vladimir Levshin 

[This Russian children's novel] is about the titular character (who
appears in the other books [by Levshin]), sailing from the A bay through
arithmetical, algebraical and geometrical seas, learning... (more) 


The Mask of Zeus (1992) 
 Desmond Cory 

Math is discussed a lot in this "Professor Dobie Mystery" novel because both the `detective' (Dobie) and the victim (his former Ph.D. student) are mathematicians. Of course, the math doesn't have much... (more) 


Math Girls (2007) 
 Hiroshi Yuki 

Three high school friends work through some difficult mathematical ideas in this book, recently translated into English from the Japanese original.
The author is apparently well known in Japan for his... (more) 


Math Takes a Holiday (2001) 
 Paul Di Filippo 

Saint Hubert and Saint Barbara, the two patron saints of mathematics,
pay a visit to a devout Catholic mathematics professor who has been
praying for a mathematical miracle to silence his mockers.... (more) 


The Mathematician's Shiva (2014) 
 Stuart Rojstaczer 

When Rachela Karnokovich dies, her family's attempt to conduct the Jewish mourning ritual of sitting shiva is disturbed by the many strangers who descend on her Madison, WI home. Although she never won... (more) 


Maths on a Plane (2008) 
 P T 

This story, about a student flirting with the attractive woman in the seat next to him on a plane, won the student category of the 2008 New Writers Award from Cambridge University's ``Plus+ Magazine''.... (more) 


The Maxwell Equations (1969) 
 Anatoly Dnieprov 

The math in this story seems very real, though the specifics of it are
inconsequential to the plot. A mathematical physicist in an isolated
city needs help finding a solution to a linearized version... (more) 


Maxwell's Equations (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

James Clerk Maxwell was the 19th century theoretician who discovered electromagnetic waves. He is often described as a "physicist", but I would argue that he was a mathematician. Certainly some of his... (more) 


Mean Girls (2004) 
 Tina Fey (screenplay) /Mark S. Waters (director) 

In this movie about teenage girls  written by Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock) and inspired by the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes  a previously home schooled student (played by Lindsay... (more) 


The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) 
 Barbra Streisand (director) 

Love story with Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand as math and English
professors (respectively) at Columbia University. We get a detailed
description of the Twin Prime Conjecture (concerning the number... (more) 


Morte di un matematico napoletano (1992) 
 Mario Martone (director) 

"This movie describes the last day in [the] life of a
famous Italian mathematician: Renato Caccioppoli. He was a fascinating and
discussed person in Naples' political and cultural life. [A] member... (more) 


Murder and Mendelssohn (Phryne Fisher Mystery) (2014) 
 Kerry Greenwood 

As a fan of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV Series, I was pleased to see that the 20th novel in the series that inspired it features a mathematician, giving me an excuse to read it.
Phryne Fisher... (more) 


Murder, She Conjectured (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

A police psychologist attending a conference in Cambridge, England is pulled into an unsolved murder mystery by her mathematician boyfriend. An important theme of the story is the oppresive sexism that... (more) 


The Music of the Spheres (2001) 
 Elizabeth Redfern 

A highly praised (a la Caleb Carr) historical thriller set in Europe in
1795, involving lots of astronomy. This includes Laplace musing over his
theorem that gravitational perturbations are bounded, and his wondering
if a similar theorem applies to history.
(more) 


Newton's Hooke (2004) 
 David Pinner 

A play about Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke which presents "the dark side" of Newton. Emphasis is put on his egotism (not only does he think that he is incomparably brilliant, but he also seems to think... (more) 


Nullstellen (1999) 
 Dietmar Dath 

Two scientists develop a mathematical method of literary analysis based on the use of an "author function". The zeroes of this function (called Nullstellen in German, as in Hilbert's famous (more) 


The Number Devil (Der Zahlenteufel) (1997) 
 Hans Magnus Enzensberger 

"The title may be translated as The
Counting Devil, or maybe The Number Devil, and it has a subtitle that
translates to 'a pillowbook for everyone
who is afraid of math'. Enzensberger is a respected... (more) 


Old Fillikin (1982) 
 Joan Aiken 

A farm boy who hates his math class seemingly calls upon his grandmother's "familiar" to get revenge on his teacher.
This reads like an old fashioned ghost story, but it is the kind where you can imagine... (more) 


On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction (2003) 
 Karl Iagnemma 

The title of the story was the title of a chapter in the Ph.D. thesis that Joseph, the main character, was working on...but never finished. Instead, he wound up living with his advisor's daughter, working... (more) 



The Parrot's Theorem (2000) 
 Denis Guedj 

This is an ambitious novel, a magical fantasy about a talking parrot bought at a flea market in France who, with the help of the personal library of a reclusive mathematical genius, teaches some children... (more) 


Professor and Colonel (1987) 
 Ruth Berman 

In this unusual story, we get to see another side to Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy, the brilliant but evil mathematician Professor Moriarty. Here, rather than perpetrating a crime, Moriarty is merely visiting with his brother, discussing the significance of his research into asteroid dynamics. (See also Asimov's take on this same subject.) (more) 


Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle Volume 1 (2003) 
 Neal Stephenson 

This long novel from the author of Cryptonomicon does for 17th Century mathematics what that earlier novel did for the 20th century. Namely, it deifies some great historical mathematicians (this time... (more) 


The Rose Acacia (1995) 
 Ralph P. Boas, Jr. 

"A computer makes a deal with the devil, with the
usual escape clause: if it can ask a question the devil cannot answer, the
computer gets the information for free. As the devil puts it, no logical
paradoxes,... (more) 


Round the Moon (1870) 
 Jules Verne 

This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content.
In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra)... (more) 


The Secret Integration (1964) 
 Thomas Pynchon 

The title is a pun relating the operation from calculus (the definite
integral of a function) to the controversial attempt to solve many of the
problems of race relations in America (the integration... (more) 


The Shiloh Project (1993) 
 David R. Beaucage 

This is a Christian science fiction novel with mathematical undertones written by an author with a doctorate in mathematics. In it, a Jewish math teacher falsely accused of sexually abusing a student... (more) 


Signal to Noise (1999) 
 Eric S. Nylund 

The protagonist in this science fiction novel, Jack Potter, is a tenure track math professor in a future where San Francisco has sunk under the ocean, all nonacademic employment in the United States... (more) 


Silence Please (1954) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

In this
"White Hart" story, Purvis tells about an experimental
physicist who invents a highly successful antinoise generator.
The Fourier analysis underpinning of antinoise is explicitly
... (more) 


Singleton (2002) 
 Greg Egan 

This story involves a physicist and a mathematician who have a child  well, sort of  that they have specially designed to remain in a "classical" state (as opposed to a quantum superposition of states)... (more) 


Sophie's Diary (2004) 
 Dora Musielak 

Sophie Germain famously studied mathematics at night by candlelight despite her parents' insistence that she give up this unfeminine discipline. She then went on to become one of the great mathematician's... (more) 


Sorority House (1956) 
 Jordan Park (Cyril M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl) 

Sorority House is a lesbian pulp novel written in 1956 by Cyril M. Kornbluth (19231958) and Frederik Pohl (1919 ) under the pen name "Jordan Park". The main character is a mentally unstable young... (more) 


The Spacetime Pool (2008) 
 Catherine Asaro 

Janelle, recently graduated from MIT with a degree in math, is pulled through the "branch cut" between two universes to an alternate Earth where two sword wielding brothers rule half the world. There,... (more) 


Spherical Harmonic (2001) 
 Catherine Asaro 

As a child, Dyhianna Selei created a transformation, just a mathematical construct, mapping the real world into an abstract space of "thoughts" (whatever that means) spanned by an infinite set of spherical... (more) 


Stand and Deliver (1987) 
 Ramon Menendez 

Edward James Olmos plays Jaime Escalante, "a reallife math teacher in East L.A.. This is
really unique. The hero's heroism consists in teaching mathematics! Obviously, I've gotta love this one. So... (more) 


Story of Your Life (1998) 
 Ted Chiang 

What sort of mathematics would Vonnegut's Tralfamadorean's like to do? Or,
alternatively, what sort of worldview would a sentient species have if their idea of simple mathematics was the calculus of... (more) 


Strange Attractors (1993) 
 Rebecca Goldstein 

"Strange attractors: Collection of short stories, some of which have
mathematical content. Two stories (the geometry of soap bubbles and
impossible love and strange attractors) figure the same
main... (more) 


The Theory of Death (2015) 
 Faye Kellerman 

The apparent suicides of a math student and math professor at Kneed Loft College are investigated by a detective, his wife, and a former detective now studying law. It was sufficiently engrossing and... (more) 


Those Who Can, Do (1965) 
 Bob Kurosaka 

In this shortshort classic, a mathematics professor ends the first day
of a Differential Equations class asking for questions. One student is
irksome, even peculiar, in his wish to know what practical... (more) 


The Three Body Problem (2004) 
 Catherine Shaw 

A cleverly titled novel that uses a historical mathematical contest
and several characters based on real mathematicians as the basis for a
murder mystery. Of special interest is the novel's presentation... (more) 


Torn Curtain (1966) 
 Alfred Hitchcock (Director) 

Professor Armstrong (Paul Newman) pretends to defect to the other side
of the iron curtain to learn of the secret "star wars"like defense
plan discovered by the brilliant (by his own account) Dr. Lindt.
Fiancee... (more) 


Turbulence (2010) 
 Giles Foden 

A British meteorologist is stationed in Scotland during World War II not to simply run a weather station (which is his cover), but to get to know the brilliant Wallace Ryman and learn to use his mathematical... (more) 


Turing (A Novel About Computation) (2003) 
 Christos Papadimitriou 

The four vertices of an unlikely love "rectangle" are (a) a dying, maverick cryptographer, (b) a pregnant Internet wiz, (c) a romantic middleaged Greek archaeologist and (d) Turing, an artificially intelligent... (more) 


Turnabout (1955) 
 Gordon R. Dickson 

It's a story about a physics professor who is investigating a device that creates planar forcefields. In its first run, an explosion destroys the device and the physicist is trying to obtain an answer... (more) 


Two Trains Running (1990) 
 August Wilson 

This play is set in Pittsburgh, 1969. An economically depressed area
of the city is facing urban renewal, and the specter of eminent domain
seizure hangs over the main character's future. The other... (more) 


The Unwilling Professor (1954) 
 Arthur Porges 

Two college students who are failing their math class kidnap an alien they encounter and force it to do homework for everyone in their fraternity.
There are some cute mathematical passages. For example,... (more) 


Verrechnet (2009) 
 Carl Djerassi/Isabella Gregor 

With the help of playwright/director Isabella Gregor, Djerassi updated his play Calculus (Newton's Whores). The plot still revolves around the question of priority on the invention of calculus, and especially... (more) 


War and Peace (1869) 
 Lev Tolstoy 

Tolstoy's famous novel about...well, about war and peace (!) contains long passages explaining an analogy he makes between history and calculus. In particular, he argues that we should view history as... (more) 


The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) 
 Kim Stanley Robinson 

This alternative history is based on the assumption that the Great Plague
of the 1300s that decimated Europe's population was much worse, and that
it in fact led to the extinction of almost all of... (more) 


Zilkowski's Theorem (2003) 
 Karl Iagnemma 

This is a story of a love triangle with a definite mathematical twist. Henderson's roommate, Czogloz, steals away his girlfriend, Milla, when all three were math graduate students. Years later, seeking... (more) 


Zombies and Calculus (2014) 
 Colin Adams 

The story opens with a math professor teaching his class on a seemingly ordinary day when a student who has arrived late turns out to be the first of a wave of flesh eating zombies who are running amok... (more) 
