Math 24

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

Table of Contents

Topics covered

"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.


Recommended Reading: Film resources in Berkeley:
Last modified: Mar 19, 2015