a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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La Conjecture de Syracuse (2008)
Antoine Billot

Although in reality the Collatz Conjecture remains unresolved, in Billot's novel the problem was famously solved by Etienne Thèseus, who figured out the solution while he fought for France in Algeria during the 1960's. Thèseus is a cruel man, abusing both his students and the women in his life, who enjoys great success and acclaim. But, his reputation is put at risk by a young mathematician who may have a better proof of the conjecture and who just happens to be the grandson of an Algerian mathematician that Thèseus personally tortured during the war.

The Collatz Conjecture is known by many names, including the "Syracuse Problem". This name derives not from the ancient Syracuse but from Syracuse University in New York State. Nevertheless, this name seems to have inspired a mythical theme for Billot's novel. (A woman named Ariadne plays an important role for this "Theseus", as it did for the one who escaped from the Minotaur.)

As far as I know, this book has only appeared in French. (Consequently, I have not actually read it. The summary above is based only on reviews and comments that I was able to find on the internet. I hope I have not misrepresented anything.) I do try to watch for new works of mathematical fiction, but this one somehow evaded my notice. I am grateful to Vijay Fafat who brought it to my attention in 2021.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to La Conjecture de Syracuse
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  2. The Wild Numbers by Philibert Schogt
  3. Incendies by Denis Villeneuve / Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne / Wajdi Mouawad
  4. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
  5. The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase No Aishita Sushiki) by Yoko Ogawa
  6. The Devotion of Suspect X [Yôgisha X no kenshin] by Keigo Higashino
  7. Continuums by Robert Carr
  8. Goldman's Theorem by R.J. Stern
  9. No One You Know by Michelle Richmond
  10. Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson by Halvor Aakhus
Ratings for La Conjecture de Syracuse:
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:
4/5 (1 votes)

MotifEvil mathematicians, Anti-social Mathematicians, War,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Real Mathematics,

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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)