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Perturbation - For Nature Computes On A Straight Line (In Seven Balancing Acts) (2022)
Vijay Fafat

A mathematical physicist tests the equations of her "Theory of Everything" (TOE) by simulating them on a computer. Due to the complexity of the actual TOE, the simulation utilizes numerical approximations and simplifying assumptions. The story uses religious imagery to explore the consequences those deviations from the ideal formulation might have for beings existing within the simulation.

You may recognize the author as a frequent contributor to this website with a special talent for finding hidden gems of mathematical fiction from the early and middle 20th century. Now, he has produced a gem of his own!

Citation: Vijay Fafat, "Perturbation - For Nature Computes On A Straight Line (In Seven Balancing Acts)," Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 12 Issue 2 (July 2022), pages 558-562. (Published version available online here.)

A little bit of background from the author:

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

I had originally submitted the story in its rhyming poetry version (see here) but that one got rejected (I was a little dejected then, since a science fiction short story in proper verse form is rare). So I'll just have to include it in an anthology to be published some day :-)

On a personal note: This story had, as do most such things, started as a minor idea. The more fulfilling part for me was finding the right structure for it over time, including the Biblical Overture. But the high point was finding the very uncanny resemblance between the basic idea behind the short story and Shakespeare's verse which I could use as the coda. I was smiling end to end when that correspondence first registered on me.

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 Perturbation - For Nature Computes On A Straight Line (In Seven Balancing Acts)
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Mathematical Revelations by Helen De Cruz
  2. The Planck Dive by Greg Egan
  3. Distress by Greg Egan
  4. Snow by Geoffrey A. Landis
  5. Applied Mathematical Theology by Gregory Benford
  6. Our Feynman Who Art in Heaven... by Paul Di Filippo
  7. A Matter of Mathematics by Tony Ballantyne
  8. Eye of the Beholder by Alex Kasman
  9. Singleton by Greg Egan
  10. Oracle by Greg Egan
Ratings for Perturbation - For Nature Computes On A Straight Line (In Seven Balancing Acts):
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 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifFemale Mathematicians, Religion,
TopicComputers/Cryptography, Mathematical Physics,
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)