Math Movies You Should See

In kids’ cartoons and TV shows, the plot allows for some very interesting rule bending, and everything is explained with the power of science. It is a running joke for the characters to scribble something on a piece of paper or spend some time in front of the computer, frowning, before they come up with a solution to the episode’s problem.

Math movies don’t take it that far, though the calculations on the board may seem like a magic formula to transmute lead into gold. Here are a few math movies to watch if you haven’t already.

The Imitation Game

If you have ever heard of the Turing test, then you know it is a test to see whether a machine can pass for a human. The test was developed by Alan Turing, who is actually the main protagonist of this biographical drama.  The Imitation Game is a movie that is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma that was written by Andrew Hodges.

In the movie, we see Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Turing as a cryptographer that is difficult to work with. It covers the story of his life and his quest to finish a machine that can decrypt the German Enigma machine. Apart from Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Charles Dance make an appearance as well.

Hidden Figures

You, no doubt, are familiar with the basic outline of the space race between the US and Russia. What you may not know is the contents of the team that made the US win. The biographical drama Hidden Figures follows the struggles of three black female mathematicians as they work for NASA during the space race.

We will not write about the racial issues of the modern time. We just feel it is interesting to see how three women of color managed to save Friendship 7 and allow John Glenn to not only orbit the earth but come back safely as well. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

A Beautiful Mind

The fans of the Game Theory and the prisoner’s dilemma, where we see why rational human beings often won’t cooperate with each other, along with one of its most famous solutions – the Nash equilibrium, will enjoy the film about John Nash, the mathematician who won the Nobel Prize and the Abel Prize.

Russel Crowe depicts Nash from his university days, along with the pressure to publish papers, and the decryption work he has done for the US government. Without revealing too much, let’s say that the pressure and the brilliance have gotten the better of Nash.

Rain Man

Finally, we have a more light-hearted comedy/drama from the late 80s. Tom Cruz and Dustin Hoffman give an interesting portrayal of the selfish Charlie Babbitt and his brother, the autistic savant, Raymond. Charlie learns that his father died and tries to collect the inheritance, only to find that a huge chunk of it went to his brother Raymond, about whom Charlie didn’t know.

In the attempt to take the money, Charlie takes Raymond out of the institution he is in while trying to get custody in order to get Raymond’s share of the inheritance. Over time, however, he learns to bond with his brother, but not before considering making some money off of Raymond’s math skills.