a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Danny Pellegrino is a con artist who joins up with inventor/genius Virgil Kirk to market a mathematical get-rich-quick scheme which, amazingly, actually works.
The gambling scheme which Kirk calls "Win by Losing" is based on Parrondo's Paradox, a real result in the branch of mathematics called "game theory". It is not actually a paradox in the literal sense (not like Russell's Library Paradox), but rather just a surprising and unexpected result. The point is that it is possible to combine two games with a low probability of winning into a single game in which one is more likely to win than lose. You can see how it might be possible to turn this into a "win by losing" scheme such as Kirk supposedly develops in this novel. However, it is not likely that there are any such applications of Parrondo's Paradox as there are some very strong assumptions one must make about the two games and the way they are linked together. (In other words, don't expect that you can do this with the games offered by casinos!)
But, the result has seen at least theoretical application within physics and mathematical biology. So, the description in the book (where Kirk encounters the idea while reading up on quantum physics) is plausible...and could possibly be the author's source and inspiration!
Intriguing plot, albeit rather implausible. Recommended, with some reservations. (It contained much more than I really wanted to know about massage parlors and topless joints.)
|Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon.com. |
|(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.)|
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)