Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NEW math on Futurama

The Aug 19, 2010 episode of Futurama had NEW math in it! It also has some other math refs.
  1. This website claims that Ken Keeler, one of the writers who has a PhD in math, devised a NEW theorem for use in the show. The theorem and proof are here. I do not know if it is new but it is correct and interesting.
  2. Bender the robot had mind switched with Amy, so he was in a human body. In order to prove that he was really a robot he had to pass the reverse Turing Test.
  3. Since PURE MATH lead to a solution of a PRACTICAL PROBLEM The professor exclaimed And they say pure math has no real applications!
This is the first time I know of where some new correct math was introduced on a fictional TV show. NUMB3RS often had new bogus math.

Both The Simpsons and Futurama have websites devoted to math refs in the show: Simpsons Math, Futurama Math.

It is not surprising that The Simpsons and Futurama have math refs since writers Jeff Westbrook, David X. Cohen, and Ken Keeler who write for these shows, are all math folk.

See these two prior posts for more on comedy and math.


  1. Its funny that cartoons are more real than reality TV and sitcoms.

  2. Moreover, the reverse Turing Test was "What is the square root of 9?"

    Bender's answer: "Uh, hold on, let me just get out a pencil. (sighs) Okay, look, I'm not that kind of robot."

  3. >Its funny that cartoons are more real than reality TV and sitcoms.

    Books written for children are also way better than those written for teenagers and adults.

  4. Is it bad that I paused Futurama and got really close to the screen to read the theorem/proof when it was flashed up there for a few seconds? :)

  5. Maybe I missed something, but isn't the problem simply showing that any element of the symmetric group can be transformed to the identity?

    I did like that they used cyclic notation using langle/rangle!

  6. Lacking all sense of humor ourselves—other than deadpan—we engineers naturally perceive humor as possessing connections to serious mathematical topics.

  7. The problem was: if you start out
    with the id perm and you apply
    swaps (i1,j1),...,(im,jm) to it
    (all of the swaps are distinct)
    then can you then get back to id
    Without using any of (i1,j1),...,(im,jm).
    The `without using' is what makes it interesting. The claim is that you can if you allow two more people to join in
    (or perhaps it only works if they
    are basketball playing physicists
    `Sweet' Clyde Dixon and Ethan `Bubblegum" Tate.

  8. Futurama: The Beast wiith a Billion Backs comes to mind!