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The Real NUMB3RS

Last week, the reviews of resources and websites focused on both the advent of the new season and a DVD set of past episodes of the CBS show NUMB3RS. But, you might want to go further.

Keith Devlin (NPR's "Math Guy") and Gary Lorden (math consultant for NUMB3RS) have co-authored an interesting book The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS. Though intended as a companion guide to the television show, the book focuses more on the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and their use of real-life mathematical techniques to catch and convict criminals.

Examples range from "forensics to counterterrorism, the Riemann hypothesis to image enhancement, solving murders to beating casinos." Occasionally the authors' discussions are linked to actual shows, but their goal is to focus on the mathematical techniques themselves, especially as used in real-life cases. In short, the authors claim their book does not take "dramatic license" in the manner that the show does.

The Appendix provides a mathematical synopse of each episode in the first three seasons. Plus, the index is helpful in looking for a specific mathematical idea, such as the use of operations research (pp. 164-169) or Fourier analysis (p. 133).