Created By: DragonQuestZMarch 28, 2012 Last Edited By: DragonQuestZApril 1, 2012

Higher Math Reference

Any reference to mathematics beyond the standard math problems and equations.

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Trope
Part of the effort to split Genius Bonus, which is also why the picture is being used.

Twilight Sparkle does time dilation

Any Shout Out to mathematics beyond the standard problems and equations.

After all, mathematics has shaped much of our history, where much of our inventions and architecture would not be possible without a proper understanding of math. Much of the most complex math even dates back to some of the oldest civilizations, from Greece to China, to Assyria. So of course many of these would be given references in media.

The ways they are incorporated into stories can vary. They can be simple equations written on a chalkboard in the background, to using higher math to help justify why Magic A Is Magic or Applied Phlebotinum applies properly in a work.

Compare Shown Their Work.

Contrast E Equals MC Hammer, Writers Cannot Do Math.

Examples

  • The opening of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya depicts several mathematical equations, including proofs of physical laws and theories.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time", Twilight Sparkle is seen working at a chalkboard full of equations while trying to figure out the supposed disaster that's due to happen by Tuesday morning. The equations in question describe the effects of time dilation.
  • In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "The Royale" used Fermat's Last Theorem as having still been unsolved (but ironically was a few years after that episode) to parallel how the episode's mysteries might never be.

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • March 28, 2012
    Mauri
    • The Magical Library on Mahou Sensei Negima on the stairs (it is trigonometry)
    • [Futurama]

  • March 28, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Add more context. And make proper wicks for the works please.
  • March 28, 2012
    Mauri
    if you look under [futurama] they are quoted in [Writers Cannot Do Math] and the case of Negima I'm fishing the chapter 10 page 09. Take into acount I'm still struggling with the wicks so chances are I'm saying the names so you can look under the proper part (at least until I get things right).

  • March 28, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ It's polite for those giving the examples to add context, and try as hard as possible to not make others do the work.
  • March 28, 2012
    Mauri
    Thanks for the criticizing now I apologize for two things:
    • First I have trouble with reference work in the site (using the brackets and all that so I'm still learning)
    • Second I did the first time on a rush (which is always a bad idea), so I forgot to put the proper linking.
  • March 28, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ So you're new here? If so, give a look at Welcome To TV Tropes. It's quite a bit to take in, but it's a strong primer for how to be a good editor.
  • March 28, 2012
    nman
    That image is huge, you can probably compress it down to 20kB and keep it at a nearly-identical level of quality.

    And how are you defining "higher level math"? An equation that uses only algebra might require years of knowledge to understand, while something involving differential equations could be used in a lower-division Physics class. Also, what if the movie is about higher-level math, like Good Will Hunting? Does this apply? Or is this only for when the equation is out of the scope you'd expect.

    And then there's the fact that calling a Physics equation a "math problem" is a whole 'nother can of worms for some people.
  • March 28, 2012
    TwinBird
    It's pretty much constant in Futurama, but the most notorious has got to be the derivation via group theory of how to switch everyone back in "The Prisoner of Benda."
  • March 29, 2012
    Koveras
    There is a lot of maths in xkcd, though I am too lazy to look for definitive examples.
  • March 29, 2012
    kjnoren
    Should this be limited to correct math being shown, instead of just a random collection of mathematical symbols?
  • March 29, 2012
    reub2000
    Yeah, Futurama was my first thought when I read the description. Both Bender and Flexo are alike because their serial numbers are the sums of 2 cubes. There are a few others, but well I don't understand them.
  • March 29, 2012
    TwinBird
    kjnoren: Absolutely - that's already covered as E Equals MC Hammer.
  • March 29, 2012
    kjnoren
    Then it ought to make that very explicit, eg:

    A Higher Math Reference is a Shout Out where correct mathematical or physical equations are shown or referenced, and it goes beyond the standard problems or equations.
  • March 29, 2012
    Mauri
    Not sure if it can apply in the realms of Physics as well... by cartoons handling Physics in the Ideal scenario as used by some Engineering Schools specially by using Willy E. Coyote [Looney Tunes] for many of the ideas shown in blueprints.
  • March 29, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    There's an episode of The Simpsons that I strongly suspect of using one of these, BUT I'm not a maths expert! I'm just a big Simpsons fan and it seems like the sort of thing they'd have snuck in.

    In the episode where Homer tries to become an inventor there's a montage where he blows himself up, goes back to the chalk board and changes a < to a >. If anyone knows the episode I would love them for elucidating for me.
  • March 29, 2012
    Mauri
    It is perchance the episode where he tries to out invent Edison who was trying to out invent daVinci? I recall the mechanicall hammer in the end of that one though.
  • March 30, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "That image is huge, you can probably compress it down to 20kB and keep it at a nearly-identical level of quality."

    Well I wouldn't have made that picture 140KB. I found another screencap, and not only got the board more into focus, but got it 17KB. I can upload that later.

    "And how are you defining "higher level math"? An equation that uses only algebra might require years of knowledge to understand, while something involving differential equations could be used in a lower-division Physics class. Also, what if the movie is about higher-level math, like Good Will Hunting? Does this apply? Or is this only for when the equation is out of the scope you'd expect."

    Okay, I honestly don't know what the actual term means. I just used that name to differentiate it from any time someone mentions a math problem. So I guess this Needs A Better Title.

    "Not sure if it can apply in the realms of Physics as well... by cartoons handling Physics in the Ideal scenario as used by some Engineering Schools specially by using Willy E. Coyote [Looney Tunes] for many of the ideas shown in blueprints."

    If they are written out as equations, they can be both. Yes, I will have a physics reference YKTTW soon.
  • March 30, 2012
    Mauri
    Would have to watch them again but the chances of Engineering Teachers picking the Cartoons for educational purposes is known. Or at least where I was they were creative on that extent. There were some video where some engineers tried the blueprints to catch the bird. [1] or if you want to swallow some of the extra meat [2] still working on the references on the engineers behind but the clips blueprints... are still eluding me in terms of physics equations and are more focused on the "to do list" per plan but when doing the math some of the ideas CAN work thing is that the [Looney Tunes] worked on the [ruleoffunny].
  • March 31, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Um, what?
  • March 31, 2012
    DmM
    So, every episode of The Big Bang Theory then?
  • March 31, 2012
    TBeholder
    Depends on your idea of "beyond the standard math problems and equations". That is, I'm Too Innumerate For This would be Audience Reaction trope. :]
  • April 1, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Well let's work on what does and doesn't fit. Someone mentioning a problem doing math homework ("What does 203 divided by 45 equal?") normally wouldn't count. If in describing the homework, they reference some specific theorem or proof, that would count.
  • April 1, 2012
    Mauri
    Well it depends a bit on how you take it... a Show called "Man vs Cartoon" tries to emulate the machinations of the Coyote (that are only made as listed and basic blueprints in the show) into real life. The math behind has been discussed by engineers and engineering students for times since the cartoon gives so many tasty physics examples (despite taking ideal material phyics into play).

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable