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Jorge Luis Borges click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author. In what is clearly a metaphor for the apparent randomness of life and the theological implications that follow , the great Argentinian writer Borges crafts a tale about the all important lottery in a mythical land of Babylon.

There is not much mathematics in this short story, but perhaps just enough to justify its inclusion in this database. The narrator notes that it is surprising that no general theory of gaming had existed for a long time, but that after numerous debates "of a legal and mathematical nature", such a theory had begun to form. This is not so much a reference to Game Theory , a branch of mathematics that would have been in its infancy when this was written, as it is a hint that the theory of probability itself was developed surprisingly late in this history of mathematics considering it fundamental importance in our understanding of the world.

He goes on to explain that this theory resulted in the creation of a more complicated lottery based not only one one drawing or selection , but in fact on infinitely many drawings. More information about this work can be found at legacyofthestoryteller. Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.

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Like all men of Babylon, I have been proconsul; like all of them, a slave; I have also known omnipotence, opprobrium, incarceration. Look: missing on my right hand is an index finger. Look: visible on my stomach through this rent cape is a ruddy tattoo — it is the second symbol, Beth. On nights when the moon is full, this symbol confers unto me power over the men whose mark is Ghimel while rendering me subject to the men of Aleph, who on moonless nights must obey the men of Ghimel. In a cellar in the half-light of dawn, I have slit the throats of sacred bulls before a black altar. For an entire lunar year, I have been declared invisible: I would cry out and no one would respond, I would steal bread and I was not beheaded. I have known what the Greeks knew not: uncertainty.


The Lottery in Babylon

The story describes a mythical Babylon in which all activities are dictated by an all-encompassing lottery , a metaphor for the role of chance in one's life. Initially, the lottery was run as a lottery would be, with tickets purchased and the winner receiving a monetary reward. Later, punishments and larger monetary rewards were introduced. Further, participation became mandatory for all but the elite. Finally, it simultaneously became so all-encompassing and so secret some whispered "the Company has never existed, and never will. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article does not cite any sources.

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