a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Dr. Casey’s Temporization (1979)
Jean McGarry

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

I could not quite understand this short story or its purpose. A mathematics professor has assigned some problem to students and during his student-visit hours (presumably), a female student shows up to whom he explains how the routine solution, which has been giving her some problem, may be thought of in a different fashion. The girl is not terribly convinced. After she leaves, the professor explains the same thing to another student who walks in, though now, the professor has some doubt about this second way of looking at the solution. By the time the second student leaves, the professor has erased the second solution.

There are references to mathematical jargon and coordinate axes in the story, and a weird thought the professor has that the girl’s dress looks like it has “stakes driven through the foci of a parabola”. I suspect he meant “an ellipse”, since a parabola has one focus (not “foci”), is an open-ended curve not suitable for a dress, and an ellipse conforms more to the shape of a frock’s hem. But then, all of this is just pointless, isn’t it? ...

Published in The Little Magazine, 1979 Vol 13 Issue 3-4.

(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 Dr. Casey’s Temporization
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Lemma 1 by Helga Königsdorf
  2. Krise [Crisis] by Helga Königsdorf
  3. Q.E.D. by Jack Eric Morpurgo
  4. Fear of Math by Peter Cameron
  5. The Song of the Geometry Instructor by Ralph M. Berry
  6. Strange Attractors by Rebecca Goldstein
  7. Problems by John Updike
  8. Mobius Strip by Cho-Se Hui
  9. Final Exam by Robert Dawson
  10. The Ultimate Prime by Tom Petsinis
Ratings for Dr. Casey’s Temporization:
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.


MotifAcademia, Math Education,
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)