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Autodidact
09-16-2010, 07:59 AM
I need a mathematician who can make me some kind of equation thingy that will pass muster in a novel. Anyone out there?

Xelebes
09-16-2010, 08:10 AM
Equation for what? A statistical problem? A calculus problem? Pure or applied mathematics?

kuwisdelu
09-16-2010, 08:37 AM
You're going to need to be a lot more specific than "some kind of equation thingy." What's it for?

scottVee
09-16-2010, 09:39 AM
Could you please be more vague about this? Thanks.

blacbird
09-16-2010, 11:12 AM
2 + 2 = 4

That oughta work.

As long as it's correct. I was never too good at math.

OneWriter
09-16-2010, 05:02 PM
Equations are my daily bread. I tell you though, I'd NEVER put an equation in a novel. I have a hard enough time putting them in biology papers and convincing reviewers that they do belong there............

DrZoidberg
09-16-2010, 05:08 PM
When Hawkins was writing a Brief History of Time his editor told him that he'll halve his sales for every equation he puts in it. I've a feeling that this is even more true if the equation makes no sense in the context. Nobody likes feeling confused, and nobody likes feeling like an idiot.

OneWriter
09-16-2010, 07:05 PM
My experience is that people who use equations know where to put them. And a guy like Hawkins would NEVER put an equation out of context. The reader however may not necessarily understand context and/or meaning.

Anyways, going back to the OP: pm me what you need if you'd like. I have an equation editor in my version of word! :)

Wayne K
09-16-2010, 07:07 PM
One and one is two. Two and two is four, and five'll get ya ten, if you play your cards right~Mae West

Julie Worth
09-16-2010, 07:24 PM
Equations are my daily bread. I tell you though, I'd NEVER put an equation in a novel.

Equations in fiction. (http://kasmana.people.cofc.edu/MATHFICT/mfview.php?callnumber=mf383)

OneWriter
09-16-2010, 08:08 PM
I read that book and absolutely LOVED it!!!!
Oh, but that's not what I call equations....
THIS is what I call an equation:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/f/1/0/f10191933c0775dea182cdde25d69a35.png :D

Wayne K
09-16-2010, 08:11 PM
Subtraction. You meet a man with money and leave him broke, that's subtraction~Mae West

This woman is a wonderful mathamawhatsis

Autodidact
09-16-2010, 09:05 PM
Wow, thanks mathies for the quick response. O.K. here's the set-up. Mitch and Helen are married. Mitch teaches math at a uni. They want children. Helen just wants kids. Mitch wants Mitch's biological offspring. They learn that Helen cannot conceive. Helen objects to egg donation. They don't want to get divorced. They're each pondering the problem.

Mitch is in his office trying to brainstorm a solution, and doodling as he does so. Being a mathematician, he idly ponders mathematically and doodles accordingly, i.e. "Let x = a child. For all x [something something that means there has to a M--male parent--and W--female parent] etc." It doesn't even have to be a full equation, just a shorthand that he might use to muse over the problem. I may not use it again in another scene, and the book isn't about the equation, I just want to plausibly represent the way a mathematician might think about a personal problem.

Yes, I'm wondering about the wisdom of having a mathematician character when I know nothing about math, but I'm relying on the greater wisdom of AW to help me bull**** it.

Smiling Ted
09-16-2010, 09:34 PM
Wow, thanks mathies for the quick response. O.K. here's the set-up. Mitch and Helen are married. Mitch teaches math at a uni. They want children. Helen just wants kids. Mitch wants Mitch's biological offspring. They learn that Helen cannot conceive. Helen objects to egg donation. They don't want to get divorced. They're each pondering the problem.

Mitch is in his office trying to brainstorm a solution, and doodling as he does so. Being a mathematician, he idly ponders mathematically and doodles accordingly, i.e. "Let x = a child. For all x [something something that means there has to a M--male parent--and W--female parent] etc." It doesn't even have to be a full equation, just a shorthand that he might use to muse over the problem. I may not use it again in another scene, and the book isn't about the equation, I just want to plausibly represent the way a mathematician might think about a personal problem.

See, now that we have the situation...

What might work for you is a variation of the Drake Equation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation). It's a formula to calculate the probability of other technologically advanced civilizations in the galaxy. The important thing is that it's a probability equation that's very simple (non-mathematicians can understand it) and has a lot of variables.

OneWriter
09-16-2010, 09:41 PM
A mathematician wouldn't think that way. I've been a mathematician long enough and I've known enough of them. And now I work with med docs and biologists and I can tell you, we just think differently. But then again, this is your book and he's your character, so your call.

If you want to correctly portray a mathematician, have him think analytically. That's the main quirk we have. People tell us things and we look for reasons. And then we object them. I can see a conversation between husband and wife where he struggles to understand WHY this is what she wants. Why can't they adopt or accept a donor or stuff like that. He'd have a million of questions and object to every single one of them.

ETA: oh, and we HATE when people change their mind. Absolutely hate it. So, in a very emotional thing like that of trying to have a child, if you have your female character struggling to make a decision, the husband would be very impatient and pressure her to just make up her mind. There are different shades of geekiness, but I had a friend who was so absorbed in his mathematical formulae that he'd eat at his desk and think that the rest of the world was insane to think that food was pleasure and not just survival. Some are very self-centered too. Males especially, they tend to have a deaf-ear to other people's problems. I'm giving you the extremes of course. Plucked right out of my grad years... :)

My two cents.

Julie Worth
09-16-2010, 10:36 PM
I read that book and absolutely LOVED it!!!!
Oh, but that's not what I call equations....
THIS is what I call an equation:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/f/1/0/f10191933c0775dea182cdde25d69a35.png :D


That was just one. There are over 900 novels listed (http://kasmana.people.cofc.edu/MATHFICT/all.php).

Tallent
09-16-2010, 10:44 PM
Mathematics and problem solving are a form of escapism. You create the world and define it. You can relax and let your imagination go and it might lead you to a solution. When I program in a pictorial language I feel as though I'm meditating.

I have the same experience when I write.

backslashbaby
09-16-2010, 10:51 PM
Maybe a logic problem?

I'm having a hard time seeing what could be mathematically manipulated in the situation if she can't conceive and objects to egg donation.

He might use a bunch of results from studies that might change her mind. Why does she object to egg donation? He'd need to know that, in detail.

And how reliable is it that she can't conceive? He would check up-and-down whether that diagnosis were 100% true.

OneWriter
09-16-2010, 10:56 PM
And how reliable is it that she can't conceive? He would check up-and-down whether that diagnosis were 100% true.

Agreed. He'd check all the literature out there and counter-check the statistics and maybe re-compute those. When a doc says "you can't conceive" it's based on a number of cases and there's always outliers, so he'd be checking the chances that his wife is an outlier.

Unless she's lacking the uterus and her reason is definitive. But he'd probably still check all the literature to make sure the problem can't be fixed.

Tallent
09-16-2010, 10:57 PM
There's a form of analysis that weights decision making. Turns each problem into a decision tree. I think it's in a book called Cognition. I can look it up if you want to read it.

Autodidact
09-17-2010, 12:07 AM
Maybe a logic problem?

I'm having a hard time seeing what could be mathematically manipulated in the situation if she can't conceive and objects to egg donation.

He might use a bunch of results from studies that might change her mind. Why does she object to egg donation? He'd need to know that, in detail.

And how reliable is it that she can't conceive? He would check up-and-down whether that diagnosis were 100% true.

Mwa ha ha you'll just have to read it. Wait, I'd have to finish it first. O.K., helpful mathematicians, here's where the plot is going.

First, to answer some questions. She has Premature Ovarian Failure and cannot conceive without egg donation. She objects (because I say so and) she sees it as too expensive as well as weird--adultery in her uterus.

He doesn't need to actually make an equation here, I just want him to muse about the problem in a plausibly mathematical way so he can come up with his solution, the next step in the plot...(wait for it)...another woman. That's right, his solution is that they bring another woman into their marriage and into their home. Can you wait to read this book?

Please don't tell me you saw it on Jerry Springer, as I stole it thought it up myself.

OneWriter
09-17-2010, 12:11 AM
You mean... you're going to publish an equation that will prove a husband can cheat on his wife provided she's not fertile? :)

It wouldn't be for every child x... It would be: assuming wife x is not fertile, and assuming a fertile wife y exists in teh universe, then husband z has to find wife y... obviously. QED.

My question to you though is: how likely is she to accept his theory? She sees an extraneous egg in her uterus as adulterous, but another woman in her husband's bed would be legit? I'm not saying it can't be done, but I would imagine you would have to carefully justify it.

Autodidact
09-17-2010, 12:41 AM
You mean... you're going to publish an equation that will prove a husband can cheat on his wife provided she's not fertile? :)

It wouldn't be for every child x... It would be: assuming wife x is not fertile, and assuming a fertile wife y exists in teh universe, then husband z has to find wife y... obviously. QED.

No, he's going for a three-way. Polyamory. He's going to bring another woman into their marriage.

In here is the idea that you might assume it's an impossible situation, but by applying a more logical, mathematical approach, he gets the inspiration for an unusual solution to the problem. They both want to stay married. He wants progeny. She wants a baby. With his solution, they all get what they want--as soon as he can talk his wife into it.

Which is just giong to move the plot along to the next place I want them, which will be courting the other woman to join their marriage.

What, you mean none of you have done this lol?

Sophia
09-17-2010, 12:56 AM
Maybe just a simple thought process, like this:

(A) marriage = husband + wife
(B) perfect marriage = husband + wife + baby

(1) baby = another man + another woman
(2) baby = husband + another woman
(3) baby = wife + another man

Then, substituting either (1), (2) or (3) into (B), he has:

perfect marriage = (husband + wife) + [either (1), (2) or (3)]

Autodidact
09-17-2010, 03:02 AM
Thanks, Elara, that's the sort of thing I had in mind.