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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Rushmore (1998)

This first scene of the movie is a dream by Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) one of the students at Rushmore.
STUDENT: … if and only if the cosine of the numerator is divisible by inverse of the square root of the two unsigned variables.
MR. ADAMS (the teacher): Good, except when the value of the x coordinate is equal to or less than the value of 1.
A boy named ISAAC raises his hand
MR. ADAMS: Yes, Isaac?
ISAAC: What about that problem?
Isaac points to a startling and intricate arrangement of huge numbers and strange symbols filling up a forgotten corner of the chalkboard. The heading above it says Extra Credit.
MR. ADAMS: Oh that, don’t worry about that.
ISAAC: Wait, why?
MR. ADAMS: I just put that up as a joke. That's probably the hardest geometry equation in the world.
ISAAC: How much extra credit is it worth?
MR. ADAMS: Well, considering I have never seen anyone get it right, including my mentor, Dr. Leaky at MIT, I guess if anyone here can solve that problem, I'd see to it that none of you ever have to open another math book again for the rest of your lives.
Everybody looks at Max and whisper his name.
MR. ADAMS: Max? You are going to try it?
MAX: I'm sorry. Did someone say my name?
Everyone laughs. Max smiles, buttons his blazer and starts writing on the blackboard. The teacher compares Max's progress with the solution in a book. Max's finishes with a flourish.
MR. ADAMS: You got it.