a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Probabilitea (2019)
John Chu
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

When it said at the beginning of this story that "Katie’s a physical manifestation of Order and Chaos," I presumed at first it meant that metaphorically. In fact, it means that Katie's father has the power to do things like arrange for the license plates of cars driving past her to convey the message that he has been trying unsuccessfully to contact her via text messages.

Her father challenges Katie with difficult and seemingly abstract questions about probability:

(quoted from Probabilitea)

His problem sets are always these abstract puzzles where she has to manipulate one probability distribution function to another using only an arbitrary—and, in her opinion, unfair and generally unhelpful—set of mathematical transformations.

But now, as he steers her towards working with her friend Jackson (who happens to be a physical manifestation of Life and Death) to thwart the plans of a gang of white supremacists, she finally understands why:

(quoted from Probabilitea)

Katie finally understands these endless problem sets she’s been solving for years. Her father has been drilling her for as long as she can remember on the various ways to manipulate order and chaos, always with the stern warning never to manipulate the real world in any way that materially affects anyone. He has also given her ever more ridiculously difficult math problems to solve. Put the two together and Katie can manipulate one set of real-world conditions into another. Not that her father has ever mentioned this to her. In particular, the solution to the first problem he asked her to solve by tomorrow sets up the conditions Jackson has asked for. Not only can Katie do what Jackson wants, she actually knows exactly how to do it. Well, at least in theory. If she’s solved that problem right.

Thanks to Gregory Cherlin who suggested I add this story to my database. It was published online in UNCANNY MAGAZINE ISSUE TWENTY-EIGHT.

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 Probabilitea
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  2. Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang
  3. Strange Attractors by Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
  4. Incomplete Proofs by John Chu
  5. Damned Souls and Statistics by Robert Dawson
  6. What it Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
  7. Lost by Tamora Pierce
  8. Cantor’s Dragon by Craig DeLancy
  9. Matrices by Steven Nightingale
  10. The God Equation by Michael A.R. Co
Ratings for Probabilitea:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

MotifFemale Mathematicians,
TopicChaos/Fractals, Probability/Statistics,
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)