Apr 30, 2014

Mathematical Fiction

From the fascinating Journal of Humanistic Mathematics: a piece on "Learning and Doing Mathematics through Fiction Writing:" 
For many students, learning and doing math in school equals doing only problem sets. More advanced or motivated students may end up writing research papers. The math stories approach is more egalitarian because students of any level in terms of math background can write stories in which math plays some role. In fact, in writing their stories, students may end up wanting to learn new topics in math if they are integral to the plot. For example, someone writing a spy story involving secret codes might find it useful to learn more about number theory and cryptography.
The math stories approach lends itself to interdisciplinary instruction. Not too long ago, a math professor and a dance professor at my university collaborated to teach about the geometry of dancing. I can see some- thing similar for teaching math fiction writing, some kind of collaborative effort between math professors and English professors, for instance. Such interdisciplinary collaboration may be a great way to introduce math-averse literature students to the elegance of math; at the same time, such courses may open the eyes of literature-averse math students to the rich world of fiction, poetry, and storytelling. 
The article is about teaching game theory.  
Resources for thinking, teaching, and exploring mathematical fiction are here.

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