a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Expert (1999)
Lee Gruenfeld

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

A techno-legal thriller centered on a trial over cryptographic exportation. The chip in question uses properties of large Mersenne primes to provide an unbreakable code. This explanation seems to be the complete mathematical content of the novel, and it is mercifully cut off by the speaker's realization that he is being too technical for his audience.

Neither the legal nor the cryptographic aspects are credible.

Contributed by Jan Birkauer

"I disagree with [Emba's] assessment. This book was not written for professional mathematicians, but for general readers. In that context, the author's explanations, which are necessarily abbreviated and overview-ish, are superb. As for the legal aspects, everything is dead-on accurate. Just remember that the laws are changing all the time, and a writer can only be responsible for the state of things at the time of the writing."

Contributed by Otis Ward

I would describe leisure reading as precious free time spent taking a chance on a writer's ability to satisfy certain literary needs. After taking in three/ four hundred pages a commited enthusiast should be rewarded with a suitable climax, only fair. Of course these parameters are very subjective.

As someone with a computer background I found the story a modest return on investment. Only because the ending seemed too timid, conventional . A wordy way of saying that I don't want to give away the ending. The characters, theme, and the author's writing style kept the story interesting.

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Works Similar to The Expert
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Code to Zero by Ken Follett
  2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  3. The Year of the Tiger by Jack Higgins
  4. Decoded by Mai Jia
  5. The Sabre Squadron by Simon Raven
  6. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  7. The Cipher by John C. Ford
  8. Bone Chase by Weston Ochse
  9. Tetraktys by Ari Juels
  10. The Deluge by Stephen Markley
Ratings for The Expert:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.67/5 (3 votes)

TopicComputers/Cryptography, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)