MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Mathematical Revelations (2021)
Helen De Cruz
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Like others in her culture, Priestess Kayla works on mathematical proofs and hopes to receive a message from her creator, the Supreme Mathematician :

(quoted from Mathematical Revelations)

I have never had a Mathematical Revelation in my life. I am presently thirty-eight years and three months old; the first strands of gray have made their hesitant debut in my dark brown hair. I have been a Priestess for about half that time, and yet the Supreme Mathematician has never uttered a word to me.

There is no shame in this, unusual as it is. I remind myself that the Supreme One has many ways to let us know Her intentions, direct Revelation being only one among many.

I am on the shore, kneeling on the fine sand; the azure combers with their white crests dance and dart ever closer, so I must make haste to trace my Sand Graphs, before they are swept away by the ocean.

However, when she finally gets a seemingly mystical communication, in a voice speaking through her young student, it is not quite what she had expected:

(quoted from Mathematical Revelations)

“Priestess Kayla!” she cries in a voice that sounds not entirely her own, though the timbre and pitch remain unchanged, “This Revelation is for you! It says… Let me speak it… Kayla! This is the Great Mathematician speaking. I’m asking: Do you have any cool mathematical results, any proofs or conjectures, or anything like that?

Unsure how to proceed, I answer, “Supreme One, Your Daughter is listening. I am awaiting Your Mathematical Revelation,”

Sumaya mumbles, “I’m not here to give you any Revelations! I’m just hoping you could tell me something. Did you discern any Patterns? Did you make any Conjectures? Did you find any Proofs?” She hesitates, then goes on, “If you don’t, it might be that you will all die. All your islands will be destroyed! Think, Kayla! Anything?”


Spoiler Alert:

If you want to read (or listen to) the rest of this story without further spoilers, click here now.


As you might be able to guess, Kayla is told that she is part of a computer simulation which has been created to see whether the sims can be motivated to discover important new mathematical results through their religious beliefs. The program is in danger of being shut down due to a lack of sufficient progress, and Kayla's work on the Four Color Theorem is the inhabitants' last chance to avoid disappearing forever.

The author, a philosophy professor at Saint Louis University, had this to say about the motivation for writing it:

Contributed by Helen De Cruz (quoted from escapepod.org)

“This story came from some thoughts I had in the philosophy of religion. First, what would simulated agents think of their simulators? Would they think those simulators are gods? Then there is the idea of absolute creation, as we see it in e.g., Descartes and Al-Ash’ari, that God is not only responsible for the creation of the universe, but also for logical possibilities, and even for mathematical truths. Finally, I was thinking of religious experience and what it means to be a person of faith in the absence of the typical mystical (direct) experiences of God, and it was fun to create a protagonist who is in that situation.”

The story was published online both in written and podcast form at escapepod.org.

More information about this work can be found at escapepod.org.
(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 Mathematical Revelations
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
  2. 3-adica by Greg Egan
  3. Instantiation by Greg Egan
  4. Quaternia by Tom Petsinis
  5. Cantor Trilogy by Harun Šiljak
  6. Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte
  7. Risqueman by Mike Wood
  8. Eye of the Beholder by Alex Kasman
  9. Palimpsest by Howard V. Hendrix
  10. The Axiom of Choice by David W. Goldman
Ratings for Mathematical Revelations:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifProving Theorems, Female Mathematicians, Religion,
TopicComputers/Cryptography,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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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)