a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

The Monkey in Hilbert's Hotel (2019)
K. B. Basant

This is yet another tale about a hotel to illustrate the mind-blowing properties of infinite cardinals. Like the others, which you can find listed below among the "similar works", this is only barely a work of fiction. The characters and very thin plot only serve to illustrate some mathematical ideas, making it not much more a work of fiction than any word problem in a math textbook, in my opinion.

However, unlike the others, the characters in this story reach mistaken conclusions based on faulty logic. By considering fractions with transfinite cardinals as denominators and by confusing the use of finite binary strings to number the countably infinite rooms with the uncountably infinite number of ways that those rooms can be occupied or empty, the story reaches false conclusions. I'm not sure if the author intends this to be funny or educational, but I would not be surprised if some readers will be left believing these falsehoods.

This story is to appear in the Mathematical Intelligencer and has already been posted online here. Thanks to Allan Goldberg, Renling Jin and Andrew Przeworski for sharing their thoughts on this unusual work of mathematical fiction.

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 The Monkey in Hilbert's Hotel
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Hilbert's Hotel by Ian Stewart
  2. The Gnome and the Pearl of Wisdom: A Fable by Richard Willmott
  3. The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet by Naum Ya. Vilenkin
  4. No Chance by Guy Hasson
  5. Zombies and Calculus by Colin Adams
  6. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
  7. Into Thin Air by Colin Adams
  8. The Mathematics of Being Human by Michelle Osherow / Manil Suri
  9. Dude, can you count? by Christian Constanda
  10. Uncle Georg's Attic by Ben Schumacher
Ratings for The Monkey in Hilbert's Hotel:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Didactic,
MediumShort Stories,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)