You may have watched hundreds of episodes of The Simpsons (and its sister show, Futurama) without ever realizing that cleverly embedded in many plots are subtle references to mathematics, ranging from well-known equations to cutting-edge theorems and conjectures. That they exist, Simon Singh reveals, underscores the brilliance of the shows’ writers, many of whom have advanced degrees in mathematics in addition to their unparalleled senses of humour.
While recounting memorable episodes such as “Bart the Genius” and “Homer3”, Singh weaves in mathematical stories that explore everything from pi to Mersenne primes, from Euler’s equation to the unsolved riddle of P v. NP, from perfect numbers to narcissistic numbers, from infinity to even bigger infinities… and much more.
Along the way, Singh meets members of the brilliant writing team behind The Simpsons — among them David X. Cohen, Al Jean, Jeff Westbrook, and Mike Reiss — whose love of arcane mathematics becomes clear as they reveal the stories behind the episodes.
With wit and clarity, displaying a true fan’s zeal, and replete with images from the shows, photographs of the writers, and diagrams and proofs, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets offers an entirely new insight into the most successful show in television history.
Reviews of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets
“Even someone with no mathematical background will enjoy (Singh’s) accounts of the nature of infinity and the meaning of the number e, the life of tragic genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and the obsessions of Bill James, the oracle of baseball statistics.”
New York Times full review
“Singh uses the show as a thread along which to string mini-essays on some of math’s greatest hits”
Washington Post full review
“Singh unpacks the myriad throwaway maths gags that litter the hit animation series The Simpsons and Futurama. Singh’s delight in the hidden geekdom of these popular TV shows. His explanations of the complex concepts are fascinating, even (perhaps especially) if mathematics is not your strong suit.”
Cosmos full review
“Mathematical concepts both useful and obscure explained via the antics of America’s favorite yellow family!”