David Auburn

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Catherine is the quick-witted, stubborn, and prickly protagonist of the play. Her father, Robert, was a famous mathematician, and when the play opens, he has recently died. Catherine (who is in her mid-twenties) has… read analysis of Catherine


Catherine and Claire’s father, Robert, was a brilliant mathematician and caring dad who also suffered from severe mental illness. At the beginning of the play, Robert has recently died, and a central question is… read analysis of Robert


Claire is Catherine’s older sister and Robert’s oldest daughter. She is stylish, level-headed, and pushy. The pushiness becomes immediately clear when Claire arrives in Chicago for her father’s funeral and asks Catherine to… read analysis of Claire


Hal is one of Robert’s former PhD students at the University of Chicago. After Robert’s death, it’s Hal who goes through Robert’s 103 notebooks, searching through delusional scribblings to see if there’s anything with… read analysis of Hal

Sophie Germain

Sophie Germain was a real-life 18th century French mathematician, and Catherine looks up to her for her genius and for her persistence in the face of rampant sexism. In fact, Catherine first brings up Sophie… read analysis of Sophie Germain
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Carl Friedrich Gauss was a famous mathematician in the 18th and 19th centuries. When Sophie Germain, a gifted and ambitious female mathematician, wrote to him under a male pseudonym, he mentored her and helped… read analysis of Gauss
Minor Characters
Mitch is Claire’s fiancé.