Saturday, November 26, 2005


I like the TV show NUMB3RS, and its portrayal of mathematics. It is just a regular TV crime, but instead of the heroes being cops, prosecutors (like Law And Order), or lab technicians (like CSI), the hero is a mathematician. The slogan is:
We all use math every day: to predict weather, to tell time, to handle money. Math is more than formulas and equations. It is logic. It is rationality. It is using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know.
The math is usually a little contrived, but the show obviously has some real mathematicians as consultants. There is a math angle to each plot, and it is usually clever, and as appropriate and well-explained as I would expect on a mainstream TV show.

Look at the above slogan. It is true that math is about logic and rationality, and it is much more than numbers, formulas, and equations. Most non-mathematicians do not understand this.

Some recent movies have featured mathematicians, notably Good Will Hunting, Pi, and A Beautiful Mind. These all portrayed mathematicians as being mentally disturbed.

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