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Public Service Award Goes to TV's Exciting Mathematical Drama "Numb3rs"

April 24, 2007

The National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, has singled out CBS's Friday night mathematics-based drama "Numb3rs" and the program's co-creators, Cheryl Heuton and Nick Falacci, for its 2007 group Public Service Award.

The show and collaborators are being honored for their "contributions toward increasing scientific and mathematical literacy on a broad scale," as noted in an NSF news release. This year's award ceremony is slated for May 14 at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

The popular drama, which attracts an audience of nearly 12 million, features a crime-solving mathematician and his brother, an FBI agent. Heuton noted that each episode's mathematics offers viewers "something new to think about, even though it's already a constant and vital part of their lives." Heuton and Falacci also chose to bring in several mathematicians as consultants, including MAA Online columnist Ed Pegg, Jr., who has described his experiences with the show. Mathematical topics incorporated into the series have included cryptanalysis, probability, game theory, principal components analysis, multivariate time series analysis, and more.

The TV drama also has an educational component. Each Monday before a new episode airs, math teachers can obtain question and activity sheets based on mathematical ideas featured in the upcoming episode of "Numb3rs." The educational component is the result of a partnership involving Texas Instruments, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and CBS.

Source: National Science Foundation

Start Date: 
Tuesday, April 24, 2007