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Papos (2007)
Alex Rose
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A short piece which mixes up historical facts/pseudo-facts from Greek history with rich imagination to discuss the discovery of irrational numbers (Pythagoras, Hippasus), the vanishing point in perspective geometry and the representation of 3-dimensional drawings on planar surface. This forms the spring-board for the mystical leap by one “architectural apprentice named Cretheus” who decides to invent the geometrical technique to avoid the “optical foreshortening” of perspective drawing, with startling effect. To quote, “he demonstrates that it is indeed possible to eradicate the heathen numbers embedded in our visual universe — so long as the mind is fit to create its own.”

This story appeared in Rose's anthology The Musical Illusionist and Other Tales.

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Works Similar to Papos
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Dead Ancients Trilogy by Peter Hobbs
  2. City of Infinite Bridges by Alex Rose
  3. Pythagoras the Mathemagician by Karim El Koussa
  4. Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
  5. Turbulence by Giles Foden
  6. The Art Student's War by Brad Leithauser
  7. The Hidden Girl by Ken Liu
  8. Apeirogon: A Novel by Colum McCann
  9. Miss Havilland by Gay Daly
  10. The Fourth Quadrant by Dorothy Lumley
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GenreHistorical Fiction,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)