a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|A boy looking around the huge office building where his mother works meets an old accountant who now works with computers but reveals to him an undiscovered arithmetic error made back in one of the company's early paper ledgers with startling consequences:
|(quoted from Numbers in the Dark (La notte dei numeri))|
... a stupid mistake of four hundred and ten lire.... And nobody realized, only I know about it, and you're the first person I've told: keep it to yourself and dont forget!
Over all these years, you know what that mistake ... has become? Billions! Billions! Half the city is built on these mistakes! Half the country!
This is one of many fascinating stories by the famous Italian author, Italo Calvino. Many of his stories have a slight mathematical flavor to them, but are not quite mathematical enough for me to add them to this database. Thanks to Robert Subiaga for suggesting that I add this one in which math plays a somewhat more explicit role.
Note: So far, I do not have a publication date listed for this story. Does anyone know when it first appeared?
"William E. Emba"|
The Italian original is "La notte dei numeri", literally
"the night of the numbers", and Calvino dates it to 1958. I have
no idea if it was published before 1990, though, the year of the
first Italian collection (I racconti) which has it.
Oddly enough, this story is *not* in the Italian original from which
pretty much the rest of the "Numbers in the Dark and other Stories"
is taken from (Prima che tu dica "Pronto" = Before you say "Hello").
|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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)