a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Path Correction (2021)
Sylvia Wenmackers

This short story, published in the journal Nature, imagines a future in which people can have the Lyapunov exponent of their own lives evaluated for a fee. Theoretically, this would give them an idea of how different their life could have turned out if things had been just ever so slightly different at one moment.

Other than mentioning Lyapunov a few times, math is not explicitly referenced in the story itself. The author has advanced degrees in physics and the philosophy of science and in a supplement to the story discusses her inspiration for writing it, which involved learning about fractals and chaos theory as a teenager.

Thanks to Allan Goldberg for suggesting that it be added to this database.

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 Path Correction
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Freemium by Louis Evans
  2. Applied Mathematical Theology by Gregory Benford
  3. Not a Chance by Peter Haff
  4. The First Task of My Internship by Ziyin Xiong
  5. The Mandelbrot Bet by Dirk Strasser
  6. The Simplest Equation by Nicky Drayden
  7. Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte
  8. Mathematical Revelations by Helen De Cruz
  9. A Catastrophe Machine by Carter Scholz
  10. The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow / Charles Stross
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GenreScience Fiction,
MediumShort Stories,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)