The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets - Book Review

If you would look on the background of The Simpsons screenwriters you will find that many of them have a degree in mathematics or science. Being geeks, they used their knowledge to hide some geeky easter eggs in the show. In his book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Simon Singh tries to find them all and explain them.

I stumbled on the book while watching Numberphille’s Youtube channel (if you are a math nerd you will like it!). They’ve got a series of interviews with Simon Singh in which he explains some of the math easter eggs hidden in The Simpsons, like Fermant’s Last Theorem. Also, he explained why people in The Simpsons world are using decimal system despite having just four fingers on each hand, which might suggest they should use the numerical system based on number 8.

You might be amazed how many numbers, theorems and math references are hidden in The Simpsons. Some of the references are very subtle and in the background, making them easy to miss. Others are at the core of the episode story.

Every chapter of the book deals with a different problem. First, Simon quickly describes the episode’s plot and hints to the hidden math problem in that episode. Then he deconstructs the problem and the episode explaining the math behind it. He’s not using any higher mathematics. You can read the book as a series of math trivia brought to you in a specific way.

While reading, you can also learn something about people behind The Simpsons — who they are, what is their background and how they end up in the screenwriters’ team.

Some chapters of the book are dealing with Futurama. And there the screenwriters went crazy. They went so crazy, that they ended up writing a science paper called Futurama Theorem (or Keller’s problem).

I recommend The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets to everyone who likes mathematical trivia. After reading the book you won’t watch the show in the same way as before.