Movie Executive: So, do you have any feedback on the mathematics in the script?
Math Professor: Wait… it had mathematics?
Executive: Yes! That’s why we brought you in and gave you this free lunch.
Professor: Ah, you mean where the bomb counts down from 10 to 1? That was well-done. All the right integers, in just the right order.
Executive: No, no. For example, the villain’s chief scientist uses the secret equation to stop all the traffic in the city.
Professor: Ah… that. Tell me, what is a secret equation?
Executive: Let’s say you wanted to get every car in the city to stop, by hacking into the traffic system and turning the lights to red. What equation would a mathematician use?
Professor: That’s not what mathematicians do.
Executive: But if you did, what would you use?
Professor: Traffic cones.
Executive: No, I mean with computers.
Professor: You’re using “mathematician” to mean a magical combination of a software developer and an evil wizard. I must be honest. I don’t know what methods such a person would use.
Executive: Let me rephrase. Name a type of equation mathematicians care about.
Professor: You mean… like a partial differential equation?
Executive: Perfect. We’ll work that into the dialogue.
Professor: Why am I feeling pangs of professional guilt?
Executive: Next, the scene where the heroic soldier and the gorgeous young professor first start flirting.
Professor: You mean… that was flirting?
Executive: Obviously! There’s the line where he says he’ll “solve all of her equations.”
Professor: What does that even mean?
Executive: You know. Solve her equations.
Professor: The person who wrote that line is deeply confused about either equations or intercourse. I’m afraid to ask which.
Executive: Well, what would you say to flirt with a mathematician? Something playful, and nerdy, but still sexy?
Professor: Ooh! Perhaps… “Hello. Would you like to buy me a drink?” Ha! It is the reverse of the usual scenario, see? You need more good jokes like that.
Executive: This film isn’t a comedy.
Professor: That much is clear.
Professor: Yes. What ethnicity is the name Sweetbody? I’m not familiar with it.
Executive: We’re trying to book Mila Kunis, so really, it could be anything.
Professor: I see. And what exactly is this graph you describe?
Executive: You know. It shows the data. All of the data.
Professor: Does this data include the location of the hostages?
Executive: Sure, why not.
Professor: So Mila Kunis is able to recognize where the hostages are hidden… by looking at a graph of the hostages’ locations? A professor’s training is not necessary for this. A reasonably intelligent dog should suffice. Or even an undergraduate.
Executive: Fine, then. It’s a graph of other data. You know, cell phone calls, or water usage in the city, or whatever.
Professor: Well, golf courses consume a lot of water. Perhaps Mila Kunis could employ a water usage map to find a golf course.
Executive: But the hostages are in an abandoned warehouse.
Professor: That could be revised.
Executive: Look. All I want from you are a bunch of words mathematicians use to describe graphs.
Professor: What, like adjacency matrix, and bipartite, and k-regularity?
Executive: Yes! Perfect.
Professor: You expect a handful of jargon, taken out of context, to paper over your film’s juvenile misapprehensions of mathematics and technology?
Executive: Pretty much.
Professor: Well, thanks for the lunch. And good job on the bomb countdown.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this–which, if you survived my smudgy doodles, I hope you did–you might also like “Math Experts Split the Check.“