University of Pittsburgh
March 16, 2016

The Mathematics of Being Human

Play will be performed at 8 p.m. March 30-April 2 and at 2 p.m. April 2 in the Stephen Foster Memorial’s Henry Heymann Theatre

Katie Fike


PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh’s Year of the Humanities in the University highlights the fundamental importance of humanistic thinking in research and education, not only in humanities departments but also across the whole range of University schools and departments. This importance will be center stage during Pitt’s production of The Mathematics of Being Human, in which an incompatible mathematics professor and English professor are paired to teach a class that demonstrates how their disciplines overlap.

This humorous spin on classroom battles waged by two vehement defenders of their own academic turf raises some thought-provoking questions: What did King Lear know about binary numbers? Do we get closer to the truth by studying poetry or mathematics? The play has enjoyed resounding praise from audiences at various venues, from New York to New Delhi. A recent performance in Baltimore was acclaimed by critics as “witty and lighthearted” and as a “mixture of comic self-mockery with an informed authenticity.” 

The Mathematics of Being Human by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Michele Osherow and Manil Suri will be performed at 8 p.m. March 30-April 2 in the Stephen Foster Memorial’s Henry Heymann Theatre, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. A 2 p.m. matinee will be held April 2. The performances are free and open to the public. Tickets can be obtained at the play's Eventbrite page.

Osherow is an associate professor in the Department of English and director of the Judaic Studies Program, and Suri is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, and regular contributor to The New York Times. The play was inspired by the authors’ experience as team teachers of a UMBC freshman seminar titled Mathematics and What It Means to be Human. The April 1 performance will be followed by a Q and A with Suri. 

The Mathematics of Being Human is sponsored by the Office of the Provost; Year of the Humanities in the University; Humanities Center; Departments of English, Statistics, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Theatre Arts; and University Honors College.

During the 2015-16 academic year, the University is celebrating the humanities through conferences, lectures, panel discussions, and workshops that address what it is to be human. For more information, visit