Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Beautiful Mind's Math Guru Makes Truth = Beauty," by Dana Mackenzie. Science, 1 February 2002, pages789-791.

Dave Bayer, a mathematics professor at Columbia University's Barnard College,was the mathematics consultant to the film A Beautiful Mind. Thisarticle describes the work Bayer did to help director Ron Howard realisticallyportray the mathematics in the film. Mackenzie writes that Howard's two mainconcerns were: "How could such an intensely internal subject [mathematics] becaptured visually? Could mathematics reflect Nash's descent into mental illnessand his slow emergence?" Special attention in the article is given to theclassroom scene in which John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, puts an extremelydifficult problem on the board to challenge a vector calculus class. Bayer wasinterviewed for the mathematics consultant job after Howard read a review ofProof that Bayer had written for the October 2000 issue of the Notices of the American MathematicalSociety.

---Mike Breen