This page is part of the website

Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Dead Poets Society (1989)

DR HAGER: Your study of trigonometry requires absolute precision. Anyone failing to turn in any homework assignment will be penalized one point off their final grade. Let me urge you now not to test you on this point.

STUDENT1: Just replace these numbers for x and y.
STUDENT2: Of course.
STUDENT1: So what’s the problem?

STUDENT reading from a book while Keating is illustrating things on the black board: ….Determining a poems greatness becomes a relatively simple matter. If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness. A sonnet by Byron might score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically yielding a massive total area; thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. …
KEATING: Excrement.