a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Completeness (2011)
Itamar Moses

This play, currently in production at New York's Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater, tells the story of a romance between a biology graduate student and a computer science graduate student. Having read a few reviews, I get the feeling that there is enough math in the play for it to be listed on this database. (For instance, I know there is a discussion of the Travelling Salesman Problem, and so I'm guessing the title has to do with NP-completeness?)

If anyone has seen or read the play and can comment in greater detail on the mathematical content, it would be most appreciated.

Contributed by Anonymous

Math is discussed in at least 50% of the text. In addition, the math establishes the central metaphor in the play. The content is clearly well-researched and accurate. The author makes an effort to explain mathematical concepts rather than dumb them down for the audience.

Thank you, anonymous contributor, for this post. It would seem to confirm that the play is indeed sufficiently mathematical to be listed on this Website. However, I still do not know the specifics. What is the central metaphor? What sort of mathematics appears? (Also, I am still a little concerned that the anonymous poster and I might not agree on the distinction between computer science and mathematics. Though CS did grow out of math in the mid-Twentieth Century, it is really a distinct discipline now. Could some of that 50% be computer science and not mathematics per se?)

I look forward to more posts with further clarification...and of course to someday having the chance to see or read the play myself.

More information about this work can be found at
(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 Completeness
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
  2. Mathematics of the Heart by Kefi Chadwick (playwright) / Donnacadh O'Briain (director)
  3. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  4. Stay Close, Little Ghost by Oliver Serang
  5. A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved
  6. Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine [Lene din ensomhet langsomt mot min] by Klara Hveberg
  7. Tenet by Lorne Campbell / Sandy Grierson
  8. Hidden Figures by Allison Schroeder (writer) / Theodore Melfi (director and writer)
  9. The Wild Numbers by Philibert Schogt
  10. Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
Ratings for Completeness:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)

MotifAcademia, Romance,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)