A Math Professor Consults on a Hollywood Movie is a fantasy by Ben Orlin on Math with Bad Drawings.
“Where the bomb counts down from 10 to 1? That was well-done,” says the professor. “All the right integers, in just the right order.”
The exec wants a “secret equation” so the villain’s chief scientist can turn all the traffic lights to red to get every car in the city to stop. “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.
At the climax, Professor Sweetbody discovers a pattern in the graph that reveals where the hostages have been hidden. “What exactly is this graph?” asks the professor.
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.
“Good job on the bomb countdown,” says the professor.