MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Final Integer (2021)
Thomas Reed Willemain
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
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In this short story, a number theorist is obsessed with one number, the date of his own death:

(quoted from Final Integer)

It has been said that number theory was once the purest of pure math. But in David’s academic circle, number theory was thought of as rather grotty. After all, it had exchanged its purity for relevance, even sinking so low as to underpin modern electronic commerce. The geometry gang now looked down on David, when they weren’t wasting time on their squabble about whether low-dimensional or high-dimensional geometry was superior. Number theory seemed far too specific to them, too finite in scope. After all, even third graders were learning about prime numbers, themselves the poster children for number theory. And by sixth grade, even the little savages were bored with the concept.

If David’s colleagues had known that he had a fixation on one random and essentially uninteresting integer, they would have written him off as a star on the edge of decline. They might not exactly be measuring his office for new drapes, but his status would have fallen.

Then, a professional success and personal tragedy for David "change the equation"...

The author is a former statistics professor and NSA intelligence officer. Interestingly, this is the second short story about math and death by Willemain that has appeared in the Mathematical Intelligencer in 2021. (See Mathematics Disputes with Death, and the Devil Intervenes .)

Publication information: Willemain, T.R. Final Integer. Math Intelligencer 43, 74–75 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00283-021-10078-6

More information about this work can be found at link.springer.com.
(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 Final Integer
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Futility by Sterner St. Paul Meek (S.P. Meek)
  2. The Arnold Proof by Jessica Francis Kane
  3. Mathematics Disputes with Death, and the Devil Intervenes by Thomas Reed Willemain
  4. Mathe-Matti by Anuradha Mahasinghe
  5. The Ultimate Prime by Tom Petsinis
  6. Reality Conditions by Alex Kasman
  7. The Last Theorem by Buzz Mauro
  8. Letters From Incompleteness by Jonah Howell
  9. On the Occasion Of Your Graduation by Robert Dawson
  10. Elegantly, In the Least Number of Steps by Monica McFawn
Ratings for Final Integer:
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Mathematical Content:
3/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
Genre
MotifInsanity, Academia, Proving Theorems,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
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)