Monday, July 31, 2006

Mathematician dislikes NUMB3RS

Sarah J. Greenwald complains in the Notices of the Amer. Math. Society, about the TV show NUMB3RS:
The violence, sexual innuendos, and representations of mathematicians on the show are complex for use with students.
Her biggest complaint is that Charlie, the mathematician, is friends with a former female student named Amita. Charlie is about 30 years old, and Amita is about 25. They are not dating, but occasionally he makes a flirtatious comment to her. Apparently this violates the guidelines at some colleges.

This is weird. NUMB3RS is really just a TV cop show like CSI where the hero is a mathematician instead of a crime lab technician. The show is remarkable because it obviously uses real mathematicians as advisors.

The use of math to solve mundane crimes is a little unrealistic, but it is a good compromise between what can be done and what makes for an entertaining TV show.

Greenwald's concerns are wacky. There is no good reason against Charlie and Amita dating. Greenwald says:
For example, what happens when she needs a letter of recommendation (in the case they have a bad breakup, in the case they stay together, etc.)?
A lot of people write biased letters. Charlie might write a biased letter whether he sleeps with Amita or not. It is a flaw in the American academic rating system that it relies so heavily on subjective letters, but it is absurd for anyone to be worried about the possibility that two grown-up single adults on TV might date each other.

No comments: