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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Antonia’s Line (1995)

ANTONIA: Since when can you do additions?
THÉRÈSE: Since I was three.
DANIELA: Who taught you? Crooked finger helped a bit.
ANTONIA: What is 147 times 48?
THÉRÈSE: 7056, of course.
Antonia writes some number we cannot see.
THÉRÈSE: Square root is 84 (this means that the number we cannot see is 7056, and indeed…) The square is 49,787,136.
ANTONIA: I regret to have to tell you that your daughter is not normal.
THÉRÈSE: I am a wunderkind.

STORYTELLER: Thérèse soon discovered that thought needed more that just brains. Her love of music and mathematics provided for the needs of heart and head. She limited herself to those subjects and became an authority in both.
PROFESSOR: Your essay has undeniable merits, but it exceeds your assignment’s limits. I specifically stipulated two pages. You wrote five. So it is insufficient. In our discipline it is essential, an absolute necessity… Let me put it this way: “Mastery reveals itself in limitation.”
THÉRÈSE: Since you can’t distinguish quality from quantity, I can only come to the conclusion that you are incompetent.

Thérèse lecturing mathematics
We can assume that the singular chain complex of the empty set equals zero. With theorem 5.8 this implies that the nth homology group is the same as the nth relative homology group, if we take the subspace as the empty set. Now we can construct a functor from the category... from the category of Top to the category of chain complexes. Define the functor S* as follows: S* sends the ordered pair <X,A> to the singular chain complex of the space X divided by the complex of A.

Thérèse reads “Stochastic and Integral Geometry”

Antonia is dying
STORYTELLER: Her granddaughter Thérèse would not be able to prevent herself wondering what was the exact volume of Antonia’s last breath.