Mathematics in film and fiction
Class meetings: W 5:00-6:30pm, 740 Evans Hall
Office hours: W 2:00-4:00pm, 821 Evans Hall
Course Control Number: 53681
Math 24 on Piazza
"Something's going on. It has to do with that number.
There's an answer in that number." Maximilian Cohen, in π (1998).
This course will offer an exploration of mathematics through the lens of a camera, the stage of a theater, and the language of a book. Can mathematics as a science, the thrill of its pursuit, or the idiosyncrasies of its practitioners be accurately portrayed in these media? Is such an accurate portrayal at all necessary or important? What societal beliefs and misconceptions are reflected in the works of literature and film dealing with mathematics? What is behind the stereotype of a crazy mathematician? How can one tell a compelling story about math to a non-mathematical audience? We will meet once a week to watch, read, argue about, and (try to) understand the mathematics within the world of literature and film. Besides reading and viewing, the students will be expected to take a very active part in class discussion and to make short presentations, which could include critique of a movie fragment, analysis of a literary text, or even a short mathematical proof. This class is intended for students with substantial interest in mathematics, film and literature.
- 01/21: Introduction. Class content. Formation of presentation groups.
- 01/28: Good Will Hunting
presented by Zachary Griset and Olga Holtz.
Themes: what do unrecognized genius, psychotherapy and advanced math have in common?
The mathematics that made it into the film and the mathematics that didn't.
- 02/04: The Butterfly Effect, presented by Jack and Neel.
Theme: Chaos theories.
- 02/11: Paul Erdős:
N is a number, presented by Olga Holtz.
Themes: Paul Erdős, "the man who loved only numbers", and his mathematics.
- 02/18: A conversation with film director
George Paul Csicsery about N is a Number and Counting from Infinity.
- 02/25: The Imitation Game: movie screening.
Themes: Alan Turing, cryptography, and computer science.
- 03/04: Moneyball presented by Chris.
Themes: the mathematics of baseball and the incredible story behind the film.
- 03/11: 21
presented by Eric.
Themes: Card games, gambling, and probability theory.
The scheme implemented in "21".
Down the House and the real story behind the film.
- 03/18: A Beautiful Mind,
presented by Chandrabh and Phoebe.
Themes: Mathematics and insanity. What is genius (once again) and how
it is portrayed.
Comparisons between the film and
the biographic novel about
Film resources in Berkeley:
Last modified: Mar 19, 2015