As a film enthusiast, I decided to relate Mathematics with movies. And with media as a powerful catalyst for disseminating information and influencing the minds of people, I think Mathematics in movies is an effective way of piquing our curiosity and will to learn.
I’ve seen a couple of movies wherein the plot revolves around mathematical formulas, numbers, physics, etc., and these movies are not only spectacular, but they enkindle the fire and inspiration to pursue and appreciate Mathematics.
Here’s my list of movies I’ve watched (and some that I plan to watch) relating to Mathematics:
1. Good Will Hunting
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The plot revolves around a Math genius who chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. In one scene, he solved a difficult graduate-level math problem which no one in the class was able to answer.
Good Will Hunting problem explanation and solution here: http://www.math.harvard.edu/archive/21b_fall_03/goodwill/
Pi is a story about a mathematician who is obsessed in finding the complete order in the real world. It specifically focuses on number theory and highlights relationship of the universe to mathematics.
3. A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind’s story revolves around the real life of John Nash who was a mathematician who contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations.
4. The Theory of Everything
This movie tells the life story of astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking. He speculated that black holes may have been part of the creation of the universe.
What is the “theory of everything”?
The protagonist in the movie plans to save mankind by transporting the Earth’s entire population to a new home via a wormhole. The movie combines elements of Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy.
I watched this the first time dubbed on the local TV network but its relevance made an impact to me. It revolves around entrepreneurship and economics in sports, specifically baseball.
What is the Moneyball theory?
“It is using statistical analysis, small-market teams can compete by buying assets that are undervalued by other teams and selling ones that are overvalued by other teams.” (http://grantland.com/features/the-economics-moneyball/)
The next two in the list are films that I haven’t seen yet but I plan on watching.
7. Fermat’s Room
I was surprised to encounter the title as we talked a lot about Fermat’s theorem in class.
“Summoned to a remote warehouse by the enigmatic Fermat (Federico Luppi), four brilliant mathematicians are given pseudonyms — Galois (Alejo Sauras), Hilbert (Lluís Homar), Olivia (Elena Ballesteros) and Pascal (Santi Millán) — and tasked with solving highly complex numerical riddles. As the apparent strangers struggle to solve the puzzles and determine why they are there, the stakes get higher as the walls literally begin to close in around them.”
8. The Imitation Game
The movie tells the story of the father of modern computing, Alan Turing, who developed the idea of the modern computer and artificial intelligence.
“In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma — which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing’s team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes, but in 1952, the quiet genius encounters disgrace when authorities reveal he is gay and send him to prison.”
BONUS: This scene in The Hangover
Did you know that?!
If you know other movies with plots relating to mathematics, comment down below!