a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Question 3 (2016)
Martin Sandahl (Director and Writer)

A short film about a boy with Asperger's Syndrome who competes in the International Mathematical Olympiad. However, neither the mathematical problems nor the boy's success in the competition is the main point of this film which really focuses on his relationship with a female friend who is also competing.

This work is very similar to the film X+Y, also about an autistic boy on the British IMO team, and is based on a story by the director with a screenplay by Jessie Henry and Martin Gustavsson.

I thank the director for bringing Question 3 to my attention. In his email, he said "I tried to include correct mathematics presented in an interesting way that tied in with the story". Indeed, I think the questions and solutions presented in this short movie look reasonable and the story about this awkward 17-year old boy and his friend is interesting. The production values in this film that was produced at the MET Film School in London are high, especially in the CGI-filled sequences that take place in the boy's mind as he imagines his friend helping him with the problems. I think many visitors to this site would find it enjoyable and worth the 12 minutes it takes to watch it on Vimeo.

Perhaps it is because I'm naive, having never been in an IMO and only known a few autistic youths, but there were a few things that struck me as being unrealistic. Perhaps others with more knowledge can write me to either confirm or correct me on these things. I could not help but feel that the event portrayed in this movie did not seem grand enough to actually be the IMO. I might have liked it better if if it was described as being a local tryout to be on the British team, but I think we are expected to believe this is the actual event. For example, it appears as if the main character just arrives alone with his mother while I think the actual IMO is more of a team event, with teams that have trained together for many weeks in advance and arrive together. In this film, it seems as if the boy's mother is the only person watching the event aside from the few adults staffing it, but I would hope that there would be coaches as well as at least some reporters milling about. And, I also would not think people just leave and go home right after all of the questions are answered in the actual IMO. Furthermore, the main character really did seem more interested in his friendship than in the questions, to the point that it was only with the help of (his imaginary recreation of) his friend that he could answer them. I suppose that is the point, but is it a realistic portrayal of someone with his condition? It does not agree with my (admittedly limited) experience.

This short won a special award at As Film Festival 2017, and was nominated for a Smart Screen Creative Award in 2016.

Question 3 from Martin Sandahl on Vimeo.

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 Question 3
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Ultimate Prime by Tom Petsinis
  2. X+Y (A Brilliant Young Mind) by Morgan Matthews (Director) / James Graham (Writer)
  3. Golden Math [Suugaku Golden] by Kuramaru Tatsuhiko
  4. The Square Root of 2 by Hackie Reitman (writer and director) / Bernard Salzmann (director)
  5. The Math Olympian by Richard Hoshino
  6. Geek Abroad by Piper Banks
  7. Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen by Kathryn Walat (playwright)
  8. The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer
  9. Gifted by Marc Webb (director) / Tom Flynn (writer)
  10. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
Ratings for Question 3:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)

MotifProdigies, Anti-social Mathematicians, Proving Theorems, Female Mathematicians, Autism, Math Education,
TopicReal Mathematics,
MediumFilms, Available Free Online,

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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)