MathEd Forum

May 25, 2020


Theme: Mathematics in Science Fiction
February 22, 10am-2pm
10am - 11:50am Lillian Smith Library, 239 College St., Merrill Collection Room
12pm-2pm Fields Institute, 222 College Street, Toronto

Meeting Agenda

Books related to Mathematics

by Edwin Abbott

by Dyonis Burger

The Ghost from the Grand Banks
by Arthur C. Clarke

The Incomplete Enchanter
by De Camp, L. Sprague

Wall of Serpents
by De Camp, L. Sprague

Occam's Razor
by Dave Duncan

Dark Integers...
by Greg Egan

The Number Devil
by Hans Magnus Enzenberger

Fantasia Mathematica
edited by Cliffor Fadiman

The Mathematical Magpie
edited by Cliffor Fadiman

Voices in the Light
by Sean McMullen

Napier's Bones
by Derryl Murphy

"The Mathematical Voodoo"
by H. Nearing

The Integral Trees
by Larry Niven

Inverted World
by Christopher Priest

The Memory of Whiteness
by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Secret of Life
by Rudy Rucker

The Sex Sphere
by Rudy Rucker

White Light
by Rudy Rucker

Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder
edited by Rudy Rucker

by Vandana Singh

"What Dead Men Tell"
by Theodore Sturgeon

by David Zindell


Physics / Space and time / Fourth Dimension

The Practice Effect
by David Brin

Mission of Gravity
by Hal Clement

Into the Fourth Dimension
by Ray Cummings

Dragon's Egg
by Robert Forward

Celestial Matters
by Richard Garfinkle

"The xi effect" (short story)
by Philip Latham

The Life of Space
by Maurice Maeterlink

The Dimensioneers
by Doris Piserchia

by Rudy Rucker


The Last Theorum
by Arthur C. Clarke

Logicomix (graphic novel)
by Apostolos Doxiades

Mathematicians in Love
by Rudy Rucker

Dark as Day
by Charles Sheffield

7 Steps to Midnight
by Richard Matheson

The Hollow Man
by Dan Simmons

Morning Program Location: Lillian Smith Library, 239 College St., Merrill Collection Room

10:00am Introduction to the panellists Karl Schroeder, Suzanne Church, and Tony Pi.

10:05-10:50am Panel on Mathematics in Science Fiction

Karl Schroeder is a science fiction writer and futurist based in Toronto. He has published ten SF novels, and you can currently find the graphic novel of his acclaimed Sun of Suns online at A graduate of OCAD University's Strategic Foresight and Innovation Masters programme, he is Senior Foresight Strategist at international consultancy Idea Couture.
Constraint is a concept that underlies a number of disciplines, and it's interesting that it's important both to art and to, say, physics. Terrence Deacon's recent book Incomplete Nature presents a grand unified theory linking thermodynamics to information theory and ultimately consciousness using the concept of constraint. Karl will show how he uses limitations imposed by nature to find creative exit points from seemingly insoluble creative problems within his chosen genre of "hard" science fiction.

Suzanne Church writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror because she enjoys them all and hates to play favorites. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Cicada and On Spec, and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man. Her collection of short fiction, "Elements" will be released on April 1, 2014 from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. After spending most of the 1990s teaching high school math and computer science, she switched tracks and focused on fiction writing. Collecting like terms and taking derivatives will always be a passion, and she loves to find ways to insert numeracy into the conversation, especially the occasional math joke. At the event Suzanne will read excerpts of works by Ted Chiang, Greg Egan, and others.

Tony Pi is a Toronto-based writer with a Ph.D. in Linguistics from McGill University, specializing in semantics and sociolinguistics. He works in administration at Innis College, University of Toronto. He has been nominated in the past for "Best Short-Form Work in English" for the Prix Aurora Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His works have appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, InterGalactic Medicine Show, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, OnSpec, among others.

10:50am Technology behind "Little Brother" - Jamming with Bayes Rule.
We will watch a video created to show the technology behind Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, titled Jamming with Bayes Rule; discussion of the Paradox of the False Positive by two young fans (

11:00-11:50am: Q & A with the panel.

11:50am: Announcement of the afternoon mathematics and fiction projects back at the Fields.

Afternoon program location: Fields Institute

12:00pm Lunch at the Fields Institute (light refreshments provided)

12:50-1:00pm Reports: OAME, OMCA, OCMA, CMESG, CMS, and other.

1:00-1:40pm Peter Taylor (Queen's University): Math and Poetry: Poems I have used.

Abstract: I will read some of the poems we have used in the Math and Poetry course at Queen's and talk about why they belong in a mathematics course and what impact they have on the students.

Biography: Peter Taylor is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen's University, cross-appointed to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of Education. He is a Queen's graduate and has a Harvard PhD. His area of research is theoretical evolutionary ecology, particular the evolution of cooperative behaviour. He is a 3M Fellow, and is Chair of the Education Committee of the Canadian Mathematical Society. He has done extensive curriculum writing with the Ontario Ministry of Education and as preparation for this, he taught two semesters in high school.

1:40pm Shirley Dalrymple & Dragana Martinovic: A Math Stories Project

We will watch a short video in which Shirley Dalrymple discusses a Counting Stories Project (, where students re-write or create a children's story, fairy tale, nursery rhyme or song so that it includes probability and counting concepts and principles. The mathematics they introduce in the story must connect to the context of the story, and provide opportunities for decision-making on the part of the characters within the story. The mathematics may be complex but students try to keep the story simple. The assessment of this assignment focuses on the mathematics within the story line and the integration of narrative and mathematical forms in the story.
Dragana Martinovic will bring stories written by the pre-service teachers in her Intermediate/Senior Mathematics as a Teachable Subject class: a) probability and counting concepts; b) functions concepts; c) vectors and analytic geometry; and d) financial mathematics.

2:00pm Adjournment

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