This page is part of the website

Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Phase IV (1974)

Some ants become intelligent and start exterminating their natural enemies. The biologist Hubbs recommends to destroy them before they become a threat and hires a mathematician James Lesko to help him.

LESKO: While I was playing around with number theory at the university, Hubbs was on to something

Hubbs recommendation for Personell: plus one associate, a qualified information scientist with cryptological background. I have been impressed with the recent work by J.R. Lesko.

HUBBS: You did your major work applying game theory to the language of killer whales.

LESKO: You see I get to the parameters of the problem by breaking down the vector of a single ant unit.

LESKO: I come up with a positive correlation on the order of 80 percent between this little squiggle and the command we commonly know as `stop’ and a positive correlation between this little squiggle and `go’. This means that these little mothers speak to each other.

Girl (Kendra): What are you doing here?
LESKO: A little research into statistical probabilities.

Lesko is sending a message to the ants - a square. Very strange instructions to produce a square.
Go straight 6 units, right 120 degrees 4 units right 60 degrees 4 units right 120 degrees 6 units.
HUBBS: This is no message.
LESKO: Mathematics is the universal language among intelligent creatures. If there is an intelligence there, I want it to know that there is an intelligence here.
Instructions to the plotter are weird.
Earlier on square in the field.

Receiving back a message. Circle with a dot in it.