God has particular languages, and one of them is music and one of them is mathematics.

*— David Foster Wallace, *The Boston Globe*, 2003*

TO THE EXTENT THAT HE WAS AT HOME anywhere, David Foster Wallace was at home in the world of math. As an undergraduate, he studied modal logic; *Everything and More*, his book on infinity, explained Georg Cantor’s work on set theory to a general audience, and *Infinite Jest* includes a two-page footnote that uses the Mean Value Theorem to determine the distribution of megatonnage among players in a nuclear fallout game.

But Wallace didn’t just talk *about *math. He structured his work with it. In a 1996 *Bookworm* interview with Michael Silverblatt, Wallace explained that he modeled *Infinite Jest *after a Sierpinski Gasket, a type of fractal in which a triangle is infinitely subdivided into smaller triangles using the midpoint of its borders. Pressed by Silverblatt on why he chose such a formation, Wallace elaborated: “Its chaos is more on the surface; its bones are its beauty.”