a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels (2016)
James D. Stein

This book of short stories about a "gumshoe" and his mathematically inclined landlord aims teaches the reader some elementary math along the way. The difference between continuous and annual compounding of interest is needed to solve a murder mystery and a linear equation in one variable must be solved to locate some stolen jewels. Some of the mathematical applications have less exciting motivations, such as the use of the summation trick famously attributed to the young Gauss in order to figure out how many cartons of cigarettes he will need to buy if he smokes one less cig each day.

The author is a former mathematics professor and the publisher, Princeton University Press, certainly has academic bona fides. They assure us that the book (including appendices that provide additional mathematical detail) can be used in a classroom or simply enjoyed.

Perhaps my perspective, viewing it as an example of mathematical fiction like the others in this database, skews my opinion, but I cannot say that I am highly recommending it here. There are many other works of mathematical fiction that are better written, presenting both stories and math that are more interesting. The only thing this one has going for it, in my opinion, is that the topics it covers coincide with those often covered in "liberal arts" college math courses. So, if you are teaching (or taking) one of those and think that stories would help provide motivation and interest, then this may be the book for you. But, if freed from that restriction, I think you may want to look elsewhere for mathematically themed mystery stories.

Contributed by Richard de Rozario

A collection of private detective short stories, where in each case the solution is based on a particular mathematical calculation. As a whole, the didactic stories are similar to the fables in "The Man who counted", but with a modern setting. As the pundit in an Amazon review said, "the usual suspects" appear, like percentage calculations and Monte Hall. I liked the game theory story.

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 L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math and Probability by Colin Bruce
  2. Crimes and Math Demeanors by Leith Hathout
  3. Number Stories: Learning Arithmetic Through the Adventures of Ralph and His Schoolmates by Alhambra G. Deming
  4. Number Stories of Long Ago by David Eugene Smith
  5. Mathe-Matti by Anuradha Mahasinghe
  6. Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens by Tommaso Bolognesi
  7. Do Androids Dream of Symmetric Sheaves?: And Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
  8. Prime Suspects: The Anatomy of Integers and Permutations by Andrew Granville / Jennifer Granville / Robert J. Lewis (Illustrator)
  9. Pythagorean Crimes by Tefcros Michaelides
  10. Codes, Puzzles & Conspiracy [a.k.a. Dr. Ecco, Mathematical Detective] by Dennis Shasha
Ratings for L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels:
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:
4.5/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (2 votes)

GenreMystery, Didactic,
MotifMath as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful, Romance,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Real Mathematics, Mathematical Finance, Probability/Statistics,
MediumShort Stories, Collection,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)