a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Adventures of a Mathematician (2020)
Thor Klein

This film about mathematician Stanislaw Ulam is based on his autobiography with the same title but focuses only on the period of time when, as a recent immigrant from Poland, he was working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos.

Stanislaw Ulam is well-known in certain academic circles, but is not a name familiar to the general public at large. His most famous contribution, aside from his work on the development of nuclear weapons, is the invention of Monte Carlo methods for numerical analysis. And the film "plays this up" by portraying Ulam as a gambler. (In my own field of soliton theory, it is his work on the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam-Tsingou problem which is of the greatest importance and interest, but that was outside of the scope of this film.)

According to ArsTechnica, filmmaker Klein originally considered studying math himself but realized that he was less interested in mathematics and more interested in the people who do it. He is fascinated by the way the lives of Ulam and his colleague John Von Neumann differed from the stereotypes:

Quoted from ArsTechnica

"They were throwing parties and driving fast cars, in Johnny's case," Klein told Ars. "They were so different from the math teachers I had in school."

So, the film contrasts this flamboyant lifestyle with the seriousness of their research and the horrors of World War II, and especially on the ethical questions surrounding the development of a new and terrifying weapon.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Adventures of a Mathematician
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan
  2. Enigma by Robert Harris / Tom Stoppard
  3. The MANIAC by Benjamin Labatut
  4. Hidden Figures by Allison Schroeder (writer) / Theodore Melfi (director and writer)
  5. The Man Who Knew Infinity by Matt Brown (Screenwriter and Director)
  6. The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum (director) / Graham Moore (screenplay)
  7. A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved
  8. The Cypher Bureau by Eilidh McGinness
  9. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
  10. Quod Erat Demonstrandum by Andrei Gruzsniczki (Director and Screenwriter)
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GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifCool/Heroic Mathematicians, War,
TopicReal 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)