Math Goes to the Movies

Front Cover
JHU Press, Aug 31, 2012 - 304 pages

Mel Gibson teaching Euclidean geometry, Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins acting out Zeno's paradox, Michael Jackson proving in three different ways that 7 x 13 = 28. These are just a few of the intriguing mathematical snippets that occur in hundreds of movies. Burkard Polster and Marty Ross pored through the cinematic calculus to create this thorough and entertaining survey of the quirky, fun, and beautiful mathematics to be found on the big screen.

Math Goes to the Movies is based on the authors' own collection of more than 700 mathematical movies and their many years using movie clips to inject moments of fun into their courses. With more than 200 illustrations, many of them screenshots from the movies themselves, this book provides an inviting way to explore math, featuring such movies as:

Good Will HuntingA Beautiful MindStand and DeliverPiDie HardThe Mirror Has Two Faces

The authors use these iconic movies to introduce and explain important and famous mathematical ideas: higher dimensions, the golden ratio, infinity, and much more. Not all math in movies makes sense, however, and Polster and Ross talk about Hollywood's most absurd blunders and outrageous mathematical scenes. Interviews with mathematical consultants to movies round out this engaging journey into the realm of cinematic mathematics.

This fascinating behind-the-scenes look at movie math shows how fun and illuminating equations can be.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This book is about how math is use everywhere. Some of the things it is use for is when you are cooking , painting / drawing , using shapes , playing games , and more. In this book i learn that when you play any type of game you always use math in your brain you just don't know it. This book can teach you a lot about math and it is also a movie which was made back in 1955. This book also talks about if you cut a circle on the top then it still has its shape and if you keep cutting it , it will not end it will just keep going. Some people think that math is just math and but they don't know that they are using their brain for math 24 seven. I think that math is just part of life and this book teaches you when and where you will half to use math , which its mostly everywhere you go no matter what. Have you ever watch a movie and you thought there is no math but false math is in movies like when people are trying to cook in movies they use their math skills , it may not show it but it is true its just in their brain. In the movie of this book did you notice there was numbers as trees? well there was and that makes it about math.
thank you.


The Clever Hand Behind A Beautiful Mind
Escalante Stands and Delivers
The Annotated Pi Files
Nitpicking in Mathmagic Land
Escape from the Cube
Beautiful Math or Better Off Dead
MoneyBack Bloopers
The Funny Files
People Lists
Survival in the Fourth Dimension
Topics Lists
Movie Index

The Incredible Shrinking Room

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Burkard Polster is an associate professor of mathematics at Monash University and author of A Geometrical Picture Book and The Mathematics of Juggling. Marty Ross, together with Polster, writes Maths Masters, a weekly column published in Australia's Age newspaper, featuring fascinating and playful discussions of a wide range of mathematical topics.

Bibliographic information