The Set of All Movies About Math Includes the Set of all Movies about Turing

Days to the Centenary: 242

From the specific (Alan Turing’s face in a unique work of art made by hand… and computer) to the general: a grand, notionally comprehensive, list of every damned movie ever made that revolves around (or touches upon, or even tangentially grazes) the subject of mathematics.  I give you Mathematics Goes to the Movies.

Naturally this includes a few entries relating to Turing, but it also includes such gems as:

Teen Patti (2010) IMDB **** A weird Bollywood version of 21, with a bit of Persi Diaconis thrown in. Professor Subramaniam has some theory of randomness, and he and his students apply it to win at Teen Patti (basically three-card poker). The professor gives an awful and incorrect explanation of the Monty Hall Problem (the door to be opened is chosen randomly). Ben Kinglsey plays a Cambridge professor of applied mathematics, who presents Subramaniam with the Isaac Newton Award for Applied Mathematics. Kingsley also gets the best line: “Gambling is our way of telling the universe that we’re a match for it.” The credits roll to a truly crazy “Life is a Game” music video.

And this bit of doggerel from Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay:

I fear that I will always be a lonely number, like root 3.
A 3 is all that’s good and right. Why must my 3 keep out of sight
Beneath a vicious square root sign? I wish instead I were a 9.
For 9 could thwart this evil trick with just some quick arithmetic.
I know I’ll never see the sun as 1.7321.
Such is my reality, a sad irrationality.
When Hark!, what is this I see? Another square root of a three
Has quietly come waltzing by. Together now we multiply
To form a number we prefer, rejoicing as an integer.
We break free from our mortal bonds, and with a wave of magic wands
Our square root signs become unglued, and love for me has been renewed.

And just in case including every damned movie you’ve ever heard of (and many you haven’t) would just not be inclusive enough, the list also references some television episodes, for instance several from The X-Files (Ep 1.22: Roland is an idiot savant, who corrects scientists’ fluid dynamics equations when he’s not killing them.)

This list is insanely long, and just when you think you’ve gotten bored with it, you spot another great or unexpected or just plain interesting entry.  And you thought it was hard to stop eating potato chips once you’ve started (or hard to stop breaking windows, depending on what gives you a rush of endorphines).  Go ahead, give it a try.


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