Thursday, September 29, 2005

The mathematisation of Tolstoy!

According to an article published in the August/September, 2005 issue of the American Mathematical Monthly,
In his great epic novel War and Peace Leo Tolstoy employs some striking mathematical metaphors to illustrate his theory of history and to explain the naivete and arrogance of placing the responsibility of history's direction on the shoulders of leaders of armies and nations. These metaphors are unlike any other mathematical references I have seen in literature.

This reminded me of the other Tolstoy reference in Mathematics. In a book on partial differential equations, I found this quote from Anna Karenina:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Apparently, ordinary differential equations are like happy families, while PDE's are like unhappy families. The AMM article also has intriguing questions of the order of "What are Tolstoy's variables?". An article worth taking a look at!


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