1. Weekly problem sets.
2. A critical comparison of two short stories (4-5pp): due February 3.
3 The whole or a significant part of a short story using a mathematical idea (6-7pp): due March 1.
4. A take-home final: due March 15.
5. Besides the individually assessed work, you will collaborate in small groups on creating a web page that illustrates a mathematical or literary topic. This requirement will be graded on a pass/fail basis.
Problem sets: 20%
Critical comparison: 25%
Short story: 25%
Take-home final: 30%
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January 4: Introductions
January 6, 8:
SF: Lasswitz, 'The Universal Library'(Fantasia); Ley, 'Postscript to the Universal Library'
(Fantasia); Stewart, 'The Kissing Number' (Reader); Clarke, 'The Nine Billion Names' (Reader);
Harper, 'Mathematical Themes in Science Fiction' (Reader)
Math: Berlinghoff and Grant, 'Counting Processes' (Reader)
Related Websites: The Universal Library at CMU, The Kissing Number, Spherical Cap, Sphere Packing, Nine Billion Names 0f God
Week Two: Number Theory
January 11, 13, 15:
SF: Kagan, 'Fermat's Best Theorem' (Reader); Porges, 'The Devil and Simon Flagg' (Fantasia);
Keeler, 'John Jones' Dollar' (Fantasia); Le Guin, 'Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown' (Reader)
Math: Singh, 'Fermat's Last Stand' (Reader)
Week Three: Probability and Statistics
January 19, 20, 22:
SF: Hofstadter, 'The Tale of Happiton' (Mathenauts); Maloney, 'Inflexible Logic' (Fantasia);
Donnelly, 'Tracking the Random Variable' (Reader); Egan, 'Blood Sisters' (Axiomatic); Russ,
'Towards an Aesthetic of Science Fiction' (Reader)
Math: Berlinghoff and Grant, 'What is Probability?' (Reader)
Week Four: Equations and Chaos
January 25, 27, 29:
SF: Dnieprov, 'The Maxwell Equations' (Mathenauts); Egan, 'Unstable Orbits in the Space of
Lies' (Axiomatic); Grant, 'Drode's Equations' (Reader); Godwin, 'The Cold Equations' (Reader);
Le Guin, 'Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness (Reader)
Math: Miller, 'Chaos and Fractal Geometry' (Reader); Dewdney, 'Probing the Strange Attractions of Chaos' (Reader)
Week Five: The Fourth Dimension
February 1, 3, 5:
SF: Abbott, Flatland; Heinlein, 'And He Built a Crooked House' (Fantasia); Breuer, 'The
Captured Cross-Section' (Fantasia); Bear, 'Tangents' (Mathenauts); Rucker, 'Message Found in a
Copy of Flatland' (Mathenauts)
Math: Chapter One of Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension.
Week Six: Projective Geometry
February 8, 9, 10:
SF: Robinson, 'The Blind Geometer' (Reader); Delany, 'About 5, 750 Words' (Reader)
Math: Miller, 'Non-Euclidean Geometry, Topology and Networks' (Reader); Chapter Two of Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension.
Week Seven: Infinity
February 15, 17, 19:
SF: Niven, 'Convergent Series' (Mathenauts); Blish, 'FYI' (Reader); Egan, 'The Infinite
Assassin' (Axiomatic); Suvin, 'Estrangement and Cognition' (Reader)
Math: Moore, 'A Brief History of Infinity' (Reader); Rucker, 'One: Infinity' (Reader); Vilenkin, 'In Search of Infinity' (Reserve: Math and English Libraries)
Week Eight: Logic and Proof
February 22, 24, 26:
SF: Zebrowski (Mathenauts); Orr, 'Euclid Alone' (Mathenauts); Chiang, 'Division by Zero'
(Reader); Langford, 'The Lions in the Desert' (Reader)
Math: Kleiner, 'Proof: A Many Splendored Thing' (Reader)
Week Nine: Math and the Future
March 1, 3, 5:
SF: Le Guin, 'The Masters' (Reader); Rucker, 'A New Golden Age' (Mathenauts); Asimov, 'The
Feeling of Power' (Mathenauts)
Math: Horgan, 'The Death of Proof' (Reader)
March 8: Last class
I. Science Fiction Stories
Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. 1884
Asimov, Isaac: '1 to 199' and 'A Feeling of Power'
Blish, James: 'FYI'
Clarke, Arthur C.: 'The Nine Billion Names of God'
Dewdney, A. K. The Planiverse. London: Pan Books, 1984 (optional)
Donnely, Marcos: 'Tracking the Random Variable'
Dnieprov, Anatoly: 'The Maxwell Equations'
Bear, Greg: 'Tangents'
Breuer, Miles: 'The Captured Cross-Section'
Egan, Greg: 'Blood Sisters', 'Into Darkness', and 'The Infinite Assassin'
Egan, Greg: 'Unstable Orbits in the Space of Lies'
Godwin, Tom: 'The Cold Equations'
Grant, Richard: 'Drode's Equations'
Heinlein, Robert: '-And He Built A Crooked House'
Hofstadter, Douglas: 'The Tale of Happiton'
Kagan, Janet: 'Fermat's Best Theorem'
Keeler, Harry: 'John Jones's Dollar'
Langford, David: 'The Lions in the Desert'
Lasswitz, Kurd: 'The Universal Library'
Le Guin, Ursula: 'The Masters' and selections from The Left Hand of Darkness
Ley, Willy: 'Postscript to 'The Universal Library' '
Maloney, Russell: 'Inflexible Logic'
Niven, Larry: 'Convergent Series'
Orr, William: 'Euclid Alone'
Porges, Simon: 'The Devil and Simon Flagg'
Robinson, Kim Stanley: 'The Blind Geometer'
Rucker, Rudy: 'A New Golden Age'
Rucker, Rudy: 'Message found in a copy of Flatland'
Rucker, Rudy: White Light (optional)
Stewart, Ian: 'The Kissing Number'
Vilenkin, N. Ya: 'In Search of Infinity'
Zebrowski, George: 'Goedel's Doom'
Berlinghoff and Grant, 'Counting Processes'
Berlinghoff and Grant , 'What is Probability'
Berlinghoff and Grant , '4-Space in Fiction and in Art'
Dewdney, A. K. ,'Probing the Strange Attractions of Chaos'
Goldstein, Daniel, 'Do We Do Mathematics With Our Visual Brain?'
Horgan, John, 'The Death of Proof'
Kleiner, Israel, 'Proof: A Many-Splendored Thing'
Miller, Charles et al, 'Non-Euclidean Geometry, Topology, and Networks'
Miller, Charles et al, 'Chaos and Fractal Geometry'
Moore, A. W., 'A Brief History of Infinity'
Rucker, Rudy, 'One: Infinity', from Infinity and the Mind. Boston: Bantam, 1982
Rucker, Rudy: The 4th Dimension: Toward a Geometry of Higher Reality. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1984 (*)
Singh, Simon, 'Fermat's Last Stand'
III. Science Fiction: Theory and Practice
Delany, Samuel R. The Jewel-Hinged Jaw. New York: Berkeley, 1977
'About 5,750 Words,' 21-36
Harper, Lila, 'Mathematical Themes in Science Fiction,' Extrapolation, Vol. 27, No. 3, 245 269.
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Language of the Night. New York: Perigee, 1979
'Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown,' 101-119
'Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness,' 155-9
Russ, Joanna. To Write Like A Woman. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1995
'Towards an Aesthetic of Science Fiction,'3-14
Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979
'Estrangement and Cognition,' 3-15
Chaos Theory 2
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