In the Good Will Hunting movie there is a quote of a professor towards his students while writing a math problem on the blackboard:

"So please finish Percival for next time. "

You can watch it here:


I've searched it already. But the question is. Why should a math problem resemble a knight of the Round Table in the King Arthur legend? What's the background of this?

What's the meaning of the word Percival?

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percival_(disambiguation)
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 15:42
  • I've searched it already :| but the question is why a math problem should resembled to a knight of the Round Table in the King Arthur legend ? what's the background of this ?
    – r0ck
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 15:53
  • The knight of the Round Table is just a famous person with the name Percival. Anyone can have the name, though. Is it possible that the professor is referring to a person?
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 15:55
  • 1
    @r0ck if you've researched it already, great!! Please put that in the original question. It means that we don't have go and search it again and you will get more upvotes.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 15:57
  • 2
    @r0ck - they don't have knights in American culture. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


What was heard was Parseval, although it is often transcribed wrongly. Marc-Antoine Parseval des Chênes (1755 – 1836) was a French mathematician whose work preceded Fourier's (the class topic involves Fourier analysis).

Parseval's Theorem is often used to demonstrate mathematics software, including Maple:



Reference is made to the scene in university mathematics courses:

The Good Will Hunting problem (Harvard Mathematics Math21b)

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