a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Hypatia or The Divine Algebra (2000)
Mac Wellman

Artistically produced off-Broadway play about the famous female mathematician who was tortured to death by Christian monks in the 5th Century. In Wellman's unusual telling, however, Hypatia ends up in 20th Century Alexandria, Virginia where she trades her prized possession (the number zero) for a bicycle!

Thanks to Vijay Fafat for sending me a copy (which reads more like an avant-garde poem than a script) and pointing out the preface (which explains how it started as a libretto before getting turned into a play by the A.R.T.'s Bob McGrath).

According to a Curtain Up Review by Les Gutman:

McGrath and his designers have indeed provided plenty to see and hear as Hypatia goes on her seventy minute time-tripping magic carpet ride. Performed almost entirely behind a scrim onto which a large array of Laurie Olinder's very fine projections are unleashed, McGrath has positioned his cast of fourteen on a spartan, multi-level set around Hypatia, who rests in a raised circle at center. It's a striking image, its focus shifting under Jane Cox's lights. Every once in a while, "someone sings a little song." (The songs were created by the cast, and a few of them are actually quite good.)


For Hypatia, people beget numbers and numbers beget machines; we are all machines and there are machines within machines. McGrath's staging is itself a well-oiled machine, and the disciplined cast functions beautifully and frequently machine-like as its many parts.

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Works Similar to Hypatia or The Divine Algebra
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Agora by Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar (writer and director) / Mateo Gil (writer)
  2. Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria by Ki Longfellow
  3. Hypatia: New Foes with an Old Face by Charles Kingsley
  4. Pythagoras the Mathemagician by Karim El Koussa
  5. The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem by Rinne Groff
  6. A Disappearing Number by Simon McBurney
  7. Ramanujan's Miracles: A Drama To Demystify Mathematics by R.N. Kapur
  8. Le Cas de Sophie K. by Jean-Frangois Peyret (playwright and director)
  9. Uniform Convergence: A One-Woman Play by Corrine Yap
  10. Ada and the Engine by Lauren Gunderson
Ratings for Hypatia or The Divine Algebra :
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GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians, Female Mathematicians,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,

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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)