Index  Comments and Contributions  previous:1.2 statistics and statisticians
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From: "magic math tricks" <markdemers15#NoSpam.hotmail.com> Q: Why did the mathematician tell a joke? a) Because he loved to describe his research. b) Because he wanted to make everybody in the room groan From: Stephen MontgomerySmith <stephen#NoSpam.math.missouri.edu> c) To have the answer explained in exquisitely painful detail.
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From: Dmitry Cheryasov <dch#NoSpam.engacad.samara.su> A question is asked to CS department students. The question is: What is the value of `2*2'? (1st year student): says `4', without any thinking. (2nd year student): says `4, exactly', after a moment of thinking. (3rd year student): takes a pocket calculator, presses some buttons and says `4'. (4th year student): writes a program of about 100 lines, debugs it, runs it and says: `4.0e+00'. (5th year student): designs a new programming language that perfectly fits for solving such problems, implemets it, writes a program, and answers: `It says "4", but I doubt if I really fixed that ugly bug last night...' (student just before the final graduation exams): cries in desperation: `Why, why do you think I must know all that bloody constants by heart?!'
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From: schaker#NoSpam.scubed.scubed.com (Stefan Chakerian) A mathematician is showing a new proof he came up with to a large group of peers. After he's gone through most of it, one of the mathematicians says, "Wait! That's not true. I have a counterexample!" He replies, "That's okay. I have two proofs."
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From: wthedford#NoSpam.aol.com (Wthedford) One of my professors who primarially taught grad students was teaching factorials to a freshman algebra class. He was overheard saying, with great frustration in his voice, "My god class, its just a restriction of the gamma function."
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Q: What does a mathematicians answer, when you ask him/her if (s)he wants the window open or closed? A: Yes.
mathematics
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From: "Pierre Abbat" <phma#NoSpam.trellis.net> Le mathématicien est allé au lit pour faire des sommes.
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From: Dave Boll <dboll#NoSpam.mail.omn.com>
I was emailchatting with a friend, and he made a comment on my .sig that really cracked me up. I included it below so that you can be cracked up also.
 Home page: http://www.frii.com/~dboll/ Stop by for a visit! Lots of stuff on Recreational Mathematics, Amateur Astronomy, etc. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>Yeah, I used to think it was just recreational... then I started >doin' it during the week... you know, simple stuff: differentiation, >kinematics. Then I got into integration by parts... I started doin' >it every night: path integrals, holomorphic functions. Now I'm >on diophantine equations and sinking deeper into transfinite >analysis. Don't let them tell you it's just recreational. > >Just say {}. ROTFL! Fortunately, I can quit any time I want.
mathematics
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From: Bert Tagge <tagge#NoSpam.erols.com> I will never forget the day in statistics when, the Professor, who had all of the traditional looks of one (white hair, tweed jacket with leather elbow patches) was writing on the board X sub i Y sub j; when one of the students asked, "Don't you mean X sub j Y sub i?" The Prof looked at the board a bit, then erased the marks with his sleeve, and said;"yes, you are correct. Quite often I will say one thing, write another, and be thinking a third. What I am thinking is correct, and you will be tested on." Every jaw in the classroom hit the floor!
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From: Hugh Robinson <hmr#NoSpam.coventry.ac.uk> Okay, here's mine. I am told that it's true, but... A certain wellknown pure mathematician had a wife who, while intelligent, was not into mathematics. However, by continued practice, she learnt to distinguish between the conversations of algebraists and analysts. So when he had guests to dinner who were talking about mathematics, if they were analysts, she would introduce at a suitable pause in the conversation: "But what happens at the boundary?" Whereas, if they were algebraists, she would say: "But do the roots lie in the field?" By this means she was always able to impress his visitors by her knowledge of mathematics. (No, don't write and ask for the punchline. That's all.)
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From: stephen#NoSpam.sp2n17t.missouri.edu (Stephen MontgomerySmith) Reading the last joke made me think of something: My wife was at one of the math parties, getting rather bored. A friend of mind explained to her that there was one conversation line that always worked with professors. Just say "Standards are falling." Another professor overheard this, and turned around to say that this was absolutely true, and we spent the next half hour complaining about how standards are falling.
mathematics
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From: penny314#NoSpam.aol.com (Penny314) Here is one I cooked up when covered with chalk dust after a lecture. " How do mathematicians die?" " White Lung Disease" From: "Charles H. Giffen" <chg4k#NoSpam.virginia.edu> Since I almost always am covered with chalk after a mathematics lecture, I usually tell my calculus students somewhere early on in the course that, although coal miner's dread fear is black lung disease, we mathematicians suffer from white lung disease! I guess our minds were running in the same chalktray!
mathematics
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September 19 Three men are in a hotair balloon. Soon, they find themselves lost in a canyon somewhere. One of the three men says, "I've got an idea. We can call for help in this canyon and the echo will carry our voices far." So he leans over the basket and yells out, "Helllloooooo! Where are we?" (They hear the echo several times.) 15 minutes later, they hear this echoing voice: "Helllloooooo! You're lost!!" One of the men says, "That must have been a mathematician." Puzzled, one of the other men asks, "Why do you say that?" The reply: "For three reasons. (1) he took a long time to answer, (2) he was absolutely correct, and (3) his answer was absolutely useless."
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A small, 14seat plane is circling for a landing in Atlanta. It's totally fogged in, zero visibility, and suddenly there's a small electrical fire in the cockpit which disables all of the instruments and the radio. The pilot continues circling, totally lost, when suddenly he finds himself flying next to a tall office building. He rolls down the window (this particular airplane happens to have rolldown windows) and yells to a person inside the building, "Where are we?" The person responds "In an airplane!" The pilot then banks sharply to the right, circles twice, and makes a perfect landing at Atlanta International. As the passengers emerge, shaken but unhurt, one of them says to the pilot, "I'm certainly glad you were able to land safely, but I don't understand how the response you got was any use." "Simple," responded the pilot. "I got an answer that was completely accurate and totally irrelevant to my problem, so I knew it had to be the IBM building."
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August 28 March 22 Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they translate into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
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Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions. From: Tim.Nelson#NoSpam.Canada.ATTGIS.COM (list of Old * Never Die, they just) Special Category: Old scientists never die... OLD MATH TEACHERS never die, they just reduce to lowest terms OLD MATHEMATICIANS never die, they just disintegrate OLD MATHEMATICIANS never die, they just go off on a tangent OLD NUMERICAL ANALYSTS never die, they just get disarrayed OLD TRIGONOMETRY TEACHERS never die, they just lose their identities From: jeroen#NoSpam.orthos.math.rulimburg.nl (Jeroen vi Rutten) Old mathematicians never die, they tend to zero. From: pml <plavietes#NoSpam.nh.ultranet.com> Old mathematicians never die...they just become angles. From: Dena Schanzer <schanzer#NoSpam.compmore.net> I have always been told that old statisticians do not fade away, but rather are "broken down by age and sex". From: The Professor (franbo#NoSpam.globalnet.co.uk) Old mathematicians never die, they just lose their functions. From: "Smiley" <Smiley66#NoSpam.btinternet.com> Old mathematicians never die  they just decay From: Haider Family <haider#NoSpam.netutah.net> Old mathematicians never die....they just become irrational.
mathematics
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From: banghar4#NoSpam.studentb.msu.edu (Rick Banghart) Two math professors are in a restaurant. One argues that the average person does not know any math beyond high school. The other argues that the average person knows some more advanced math. Just then, the first one gets up to use the rest room. The second professor calls over his waitress and says, "When you bring our food, I'm going to ask you a mathematical question. I want you to answer, 'One third x cubed.' Can you do that?" The waitress says, "I don't know if I can remember that. One thurr... um..." "One third x cubed," says the prof. "One thir dex cue?," asks the waitress. "One" "One" "Third" "Third" "X" "X" "Cubed" "Cubed" "One third X cubed" "One third X cubed" The waitress leaves, and the other professor comes back. They resume their conversation until a few minutes later when the waitress brings their food. The professor says to the waitress, "Say, do you mind if I ask you something?" "Not at all" "Can you tell me what the integral of x squared dx is?" The waitress pauses, then says, "One third x cubed." As she walks away, she stops, turns, and adds, "Plus a constant!"
mathematics
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From: Oscar Lanzi III (o13#NoSpam.webtv.net) Two mathematicians walk into a restaurant for lunch. One challenges the other to a wager, loser pays fthe tab: Said the challenger: "The waitperson will not know the correct formula for (a+b)^2." "You're on!" was the reply. They place their order and the waitpersoin is asked the formula for (a+b)^2. The waitperson replied: "Obviously, (a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2." "Provided, of course, that a and b are anticommutative!"
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September 4 Special Category: How many scientists does it take to screw in a lightbulb How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One, who gives it to six Californians, thereby reducing it to an earlier riddle.  from a button I bought at Nancy Lebowitz's table at Boskone From: rrcraig#NoSpam.eos.ncsu.edu (Ralph Ray Craig) Q: How many numerical analysts does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: 0.9973 after the first three iterations. Q: How many topologists does it take to change a light bulb? A: It really doesn't matter, since they'd rather knot. From:BRIAN6#NoSpam.VAXC.MDX.AC.UK (canonical lightbulb collection) Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: None. It's left to the reader as an exercise. A: Just one, once you've managed to present the problem in terms he/she is familiar with. In earlier work, Wiener [1] has shown that one mathematician can change a light bulb. If k mathematicians can change a light bulb, and if one more simply watches them do it, then k+1 mathematicians will have changed the light bulb. Therefore, by induction, for all n in the positive integers, n mathematicians can change a light bulb. Bibliography: [1] Wiener, Matthew P., <11485@ucbvax>, "Re: YALBJ", 1986 Q: How many statisticians does it take to change a lightbulb ? A: This should be determined using a nonparametric procedure, since statisticians are NOT NORMAL. A: Walt Pirie to hold the bulb and one psychologist, one economist, one sociologist and one anthropologist to pull away the ladder. A: One  plus or minus three (small sample size). (Notes: Someone has been asking this as a bonus question on statistics exam papers for quite a while. Judging from some of his own students' exam answers, it depends on whether the lightbulb is negatively or positively screwed.) Q: How many light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb? A: One, if it knows its own Goedel number. (Has to do with Goedel's incompleteness theorem) From: feldco#NoSpam.aol.com (Zevra and his little green guy) How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb? None. The answer is intuitively obvious. How many mathematical logicians does it take to change a light bulb? None. They can't do it, but they can easily prove that it can be done. How many classical geometers does it take to change a light bulb? None. You can't do it with a straight edge and a compass. How many analysts does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to prove existence, one to prove uniqueness and one to derive a nonconstructive algorithm to do it. How many number theorists does it take to change a light bulb? I don't know the exact number, but I am sure it must be some rather elegant prime. From: "Ron" <ron#NoSpam.dock.net> How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? Three: one to screw it in, and two to figure out how to get rid of the remainder. Jason Poole From: Arbel (arbel#NoSpam.mehr.ws) Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: 0.999999...
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Special Category: Definitions and terms Februari 1 March 30 August 28 September 26 (Corrected by "Christopher J. Mark" <cjmark#NoSpam.speakeasy.org>) "A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems"  Alfr़d R़nyi (Hungarian mathematician, 19211970) (It is often attributed to Paul Erd५s) "Weak coffee however is only fit for lemmas"  Paul Turेn (Hungarian mathematician, 19101976)
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June 26 December 17 Special Category: Lord Kelvin/William Thomson Special Category: Definitions and terms From: "G. A. Edgar" <edgar#NoSpam.math.ohiostate.edu.invalid> "Once when lecturing in class he [Lord Kelvin] used the word 'mathematician' and then interrupting himself asked his class: 'Do you know what a mathematician is?' Stepping to his blackboard he wrote upon it: integral from  infinty to + infinity of exp(x^2)dx = sqrt(pi). Then putting his finger on what he had written, he turned to his class and said, 'a mathematician is one to whom *that* is as obvious as that twice two makes four is to you.'" S. P. Thompson, Life of Lord Kelvin
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Special Category: Paul Erd५s September 20 March 26 I do what a mathematician does and therefore I drink what a mathematician drinks. (Excuse that Paul Erd५s invented (too late) for the thirteen year old Louis P२sa, after Erd५s's mother complained that he had given P२sa some coffee.)  Paul Erd५s (Hungarian mathematician, 19131996)
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From: Chris Morton (mortoncp#NoSpam.nextwork.rosehulman.edu) do it collection rgep#NoSpam.pmms.cam.ac.uk (Richard Pinch),jeffs#NoSpam.math.bu.edu (Jeff Suzuki) Joao Batista(fbatista#NoSpam.cc.fc.ul.pt), wft#NoSpam.math.canterbury.ac.nz (Bill Taylor), Andrew Smith <A.J.Smith#NoSpam.reading.ac.uk>, The Professor (franbo#NoSpam.globalnet.co.uk) Special Category: Scientists do it... Algebraists do it by symbolic manipulation. Algebraic geometers do it for variety. Algebraic geometers do it on the cubic threefold. Algebraists do it in a ring. Algebraists do it in fields. Algebraists do it in groups. Algebraists do it with multiple roots. Analysts do it continuously. Analysts do it smoothly. Analytic number theorists do it in the critical strip. Analytic number theorists do it on the critical line. Applied mathematicians do it by computer simulation. Banach spacers do it completely. Bayesians do it with improper priors. Catastrophe theorists do it falling off part of a sheet. Chaoticians do it with sensitive dependence Class field theorists do it by capitulation. Classical geometers do it on the Euler line. Classical geometers do it on the ninepoint circle. Combinatorialists do it discretely. Commutative algebraists do it regularly. Complex analysts do it between the sheets Complex analysts do it under a universal cover. Constructivists do it without excluding the middle. Decision theorists do it optimally. Differential analysts do it in a degenerate case. Functional analysts do it with compact support. Functional analysts do it with degenerate colonels. Galois theorists do it in a field. Game theorists do it by dominance or saddle points. Geometers do it with involutions. Graph theorists do it discretely. Graph theorists do it in four colours. Group theorists do it simply. Group theorists do it with the Monster. Hilbert spacers do it orthogonally. Large cardinals do it inaccessibly. Linear programmers do it with nearest neighbors. Logicians do it by choice. Logicians do it consistently and completely. Logicians do it incompletely or inconsistently. Logicians do it with Jensen's device. (Logicians do it) or [not (logicians do it)]. Mathematicians do it associatively. Mathematicians do it by numbers. Mathematicians do it commutatively. Mathematicians do it constantly. Mathematicians do it continuously. Mathematicians do it discretely. Mathematicians do it exponentially. Mathematicians do it forever if they can do one and can do one more. Mathematicians do it functionally. Mathematicians do it homologically. Mathematicians do it in fields. Mathematicians do it in groups. Mathematicians do it in imaginary planes. Mathematicians do it in n dimensions. Mathematicians do it in numbers. Mathematicians do it in theory. Mathematicians do it on smooth contours. Mathematicians do it over and under the curves. Mathematicians do it parallel and perpendicular. Mathematicians do it partially. Mathematicians do it rationally. Mathematicians do it reflexively. Mathematicians do it symmetrically. Mathematicians do it to prove themselves. Mathematicians do it to their limits. Mathematicians do it totally. Mathematicians do it transcendentally. Mathematicians do it transitively. Mathematicians do it variably. Mathematicians do it with a Minkowski sausage. Mathematicians do it with imaginary parts. Mathematicians do it with linear pairs. Mathematicians do it with Nobel's wife. Mathematicians do it with odd functions. Mathematicians do it with prime roots. Mathematicians do it with relations. Mathematicians do it with rings. Mathematicians do it with their real parts. Mathematicians do it without limit. Mathematicians do over an open unmeasurable interval. Mathematicians have to prove they did it. Mathematicians do it ad infinitum. Mathematicians do it at the right angle. Measure theorists do it almost everywhere. Measure theorists do it almost nowhere. Moebius always does it on the same side. Number theorists do it perfectly. Number theorists do it rationally. Number theorists do it in the critical strip. Pure mathematicians do it rigorously. Real analysts do it almost everywhere Real analysts do it uniformly. Ring theorists do it noncommutatively. Set theorists do it in a morass. Set theorists do it with cardinals. Topologists do it in multiply connected domains Topologists do it on rubber sheets. Topos theorists do it pointlessly. From: "vIRCiated\(tm\)" <r.pinheiro#NoSpam.tutopia.com.br> Mathematicians do it with primality. MATHEMATICIANS do it as a finite sum of an infinite series MATHEMATICIANS do it as continuous function MATHEMATICIANS do it in imaginary domain MATHEMATICIANS do it with formulौ MATHEMATICIANS prove they did it MATHEMATICIANS take it to the limit From nemo_ outis <nemo_outis#NoSpam.elsewhere.com>: Topologists do it openly.
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A mathematician is a person who says that, when 3 people are supposed to be in a room but 5 came out, 2 have to go in so the room gets empty...
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My geometry teacher was sometimes acute, and sometimes obtuse, but always, he was right.
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From: lyon#NoSpam.netcom.com (Lyman Lyon) Physics professor is walking across campus, runs into Math Professor. Physics professor has been doing an experiment, and has worked out an emphirical equation that seems to explain his data, and asks the Math professor to look at it. A week later, they meet again, and the Math professor says the equation is invalid. By then, the Physics professor has used his equation to predict the results of further experiments, and he is getting excellent results, so he askes the Math professor to look again. Another week goes by, and they meet once more. The Math professor tells the Physics professor the equation does work, "But only in the trivial case where the numbers are real and positive."
mathematics
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From: gw#NoSpam.molly.informatik.UniKoeln.DE (Georg Wambach) What is the difference between an applied mathematician and a pure mathematician? Suppose a mathematician parks his car, locks it with his key and walks away. After walking about 50 yards the mathematician realizes that he has dropped his key somewhere along the way. What does he do? If he is an applied mathematician he walks back to the car along the path he has previously traveled looking for his key. If he is a pure mathematician he walks to the other end of the parking lot where there is better light and looks for his key there. I told this joke to my brother (he is a "pure"). He answers: "But we have not dropped our keys!" Hence, I suggest a slight modification: Suppose a _tax_payer_ parks his car, locks it with his key and walks away. After walking about 50 yards the tax payer realizes that he has dropped his key somewhere along the way. He asked a mathematician to help him. What does the mathematician do? (...)
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From: "John Derrico" <derrico#NoSpam.pixel.Kodak.COM> The famous professor of mathematics was in town for a conference. Since he had some free time, he was approached to give a seminar for the undergraduate mathematics students at the local college. After covering several blackboards with densely packed computations and expressions filled with Bessel functions and more, the professor remembered that there were many undergraduate students in the room. Feeling just a twinge of remorse that perhaps he was talking above the heads of some of the students in his audience, he turned around and asked the audience if there were any students who had never seen a Bessel function. The audience was silent for a moment. Finally, one intrepid student raised his hand to admit that he had never seen Bessel functions. The professor nodded with apparent comprehension. Without hesitation, he turned around and pointed at the blackboard, while saying "well, there's one now" and continued his talk.
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From: Steven Sinnott <steveisi#NoSpam.vt.edu> When a mathematician dies, does he get disfigured, dissolved, or disintegrated?
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From: ikat#NoSpam.msg.ti.com (KatC) If mathematicians are neutered, they can't multiply.
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From: seanr#NoSpam.fsgate.uchicago.edu (Sean Roberts) If a mathematician writes a fantasy novel, would the pages have imaginary numbers? From: jboots#NoSpam.pacifier.com (John Boots) If Fibonacci wrote the book, they would be numbered 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21...
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From: Mike Banulescu <misu#NoSpam.dartmouth.edu> Since I'm studying for a math final tomorrow:  do mathematiciens go to the beach looking for a tan?  and while on a plane, do they try to figure out its equation?  wherever they are, mathematicians just can't seem to integrate into the real world...
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From: Melanie Aultman <afn10453#NoSpam.afn.org> Mathematicians....don't sin, they sine. ....always have a nice tan. ....are always going off on a tangent.
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August 3 October 26 During an oral examination by the Polish Mathematician M. Kac, a student was asked the behaviour of the Rieman zeta function zeta(s) in s=1. When the student had no idea, Kac gave the hit:"Think of me." The anser came immediately :"Aah, it has a simple pole."
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From: Henry Cate's Life collection 3.6 Just to throw in my two cents worth in to the Intuitively Obvious bucket, when I was a math student at Towson State University we were given a final exam that involved proving that two N dimensional matrices were related in a given way. I started with the first matrix and used every theorem that I could remember trying to reach the second, but I got stuck halfway through. Working feverishly on a piece of scrap paper, I started on the second matrix, but couldn't work it back to the first. In a flash of inspiration, I set the two intermediate results equal to each other and copied the second set of equations backwards onto the tail of the first. When I got the paper back, there was a C which was crossed out and replaced by an A, the midpoint of my equations was underlined, with a note saying  At first I doubted that this step was intuitively obvious, but after thinking about it for several hours, I decided that it was.
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From: Henry Cate's Life collection 3.6 All right, you asked for it. A (possibly apocryphal) story related to me by a graduate student who had come from a large midwest (Wisconsin?) univ. Seems that one of his classes was taught by the department emeritus Prof who was very old (in his 80's) and sometimes a bit vague, but at other times incredibly sharp. One day in lecture he was explaining something abstruse and paused to look at the board for a moment. Thereupon he wrote down a result and said, eyes twinkling, "And this is intuitively obvious..". Whereupon he smiled, looked out over the class, saw the rows of blank stares, and turned back to the board to contemplate the statement written there. This went on for about a minute, at the end of which time he started to wander, rather deeply in thought, across the stage. This went on for a minute or two, after which the Prof. drifted out into the hall and was heard walking back and forth. People started to, well, look at each other and smile. A scout was sent out who reported the old boy was pacing around and muttering to himself. The class, incredibly, remained reasonably calm. About five minutes after the scout had returned, there was a happy shout from the hallway, and the again brighteyed Prof. scuttled back in, pointed to the intuitively obvious result written on the blackboard, turned to the class and said, all aglow, "Yes, yes, it IS intuitively obvious". Same source, different Prof. This one happened to not like students coming in late to the math class he taught..so much so that he would do any of the following to the offender: lock them out, yell at them abusively, throw chalk at them. One day, the Prof. was late. Five minutes went by. Silently, one of the students went down and started passing up to the audience all the chalk pieces and erasers. The Prof. came rushing in at last, gave no excuse, and began to lecture. After about a minute, he needed the chalk, and asked "Has anyone seen the chalk?". The entire class stood up and bombarded him with chalk and erasers. The professor was said never to have abused a student for lateness again.....
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From: mlc#NoSpam.iberia.cca.rockwell.com (Michael Cook, Canonical list of Math Jokes) This actually happened about 15 years ago, when  as a young lecturer  I was asked to give a course on Foundations of Analysis. I was sure at the time that the students already know the subject matter and they will be wasting their time listening to me. I was quite surprised, when I entered the classroom for the first lecture, to find a room packed with students. I was going to suggest that those who know the subject matter leave the course, so as not to waste time and energy. I therefore asked the following question: "Has any one of you, by chance, read the book of Landau: Foundations of Analysis?" The class suddenly became very quiet, until a student from the last row said: "I did not read the book, but I saw the movie." Weeks later we were laughing, trying to imagine to ourselves how a movie on Foundation of Analysis could look like.
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A "small college story" going around here (at least three people have told me this story, each one claiming it was them): A student, working on a rather long math homework assignment, discovered that one problem was fairly easy to solve, except that it required about three pages of fairly simple proof after the one or two difficult steps. It being rather late at night, he did the difficult steps and left the proof undone, along with a note: "This proof is left as an exercise for the grader." Next week, he received his homework back. He noted that several extra pages had been stapled to the back of it. Examining the extra pages, he was surprised to find the entire proof written down stepby step. At the end, in red pen, the grader had written: "I made a minor math error. Minus 2."
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From: reg#NoSpam.pinet.aip.org (Dr. Richard Glass) While taking a psych. course in college, the teacher had a habit of putting the following questions on an exam: "Ask yourself a question and answer it" Being a math major, I asked myself "Solve the following differential equation [* equation deleted *] under the following conditions [* conditions deleted *]" and proceeded to solve it. The next day I stopped by the math office to see one of the profs. He told me "Go away, I'm stuck grading your stupid psych. exam". I got full credit, and the psych prof. never put that question on an exam again. From: Seth Breidbart (sethb#NoSpam.Morgan.COM) The story around Harvard was that there was a graduate Math course whose final always consisted of "Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts." Then one year, a student answered as follows: The exam is: "Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts." The answer is: "Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts." His reasoning was that since that was the best exam the professor could write, it certainly ought to be good enough for a student. He got an A. The professor specifically prohibited that answer from then on. From: Evan Kirshenbaum (evan#NoSpam.hplabs.hpl.hp.com) I heard the same story at Stanford. It bothered those of us whe were into recursion because the proposed question is a twopart question (question and answer) and the proposed answer only adresses one of the parts. The story should really be recursive: The exam is: "Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts." The answer is: "The exam is `Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts.' The answer is `The exam is "Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts." The answer is .... or, using Common Lisp notation, #1: The exam is: "Make up an appropriate final exam for this course and answer it. You will be graded on both parts." The answer is: "#1#"
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From: neufeld#NoSpam.aurora.physics.utoronto.ca (Christopher Neufeld) Well, I've got a favorite story from my MathPhys course in undergrad. I figure the statute of limitations on the marks has expired now, so here goes. The typical problem, show <expr> is equal to <much simpler expr>. The math was pretty nasty, and halfway through it looked like I'd need a clue to getting to the answer, so I went to the result and tried to work it back to the intermediate result (typical test/homework trick). They didn't meet. I had two expressions which I knew were equal from plugging into the calculator, but I couldn't show it algebraically. So, I used another familiar trick, between the two lines I wrote: ICBS (it can be shown) and stuck it between the two pieces I couldn't connect. Now, somebody else in the class did the same thing, exactly, and got stuck in exactly the same place. He wrote: TAMO (then a miracle occurs) in the same place. I got full marks, he lost marks and got a sarcastic comment from the corrector.
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"The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it is cheaper to do this than to institutionalize all those people."
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From: Mike Deeth <mad#NoSpam.ashland.baysat.net> March 3 Januari 6 Why did Cantor get fired from the M&M factory? He kept throughing away the W's. On his way out of the building he was heard muttering, "Doesn't the idiot realize that there are an infinite amount of w's? Throughing away a few w's won't change the number of w's that remain. ...Oh!.. Pardon me Mr. Tree. How are your leaves today?"
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From: Michael Stueben Q: How can you tell an extroverted mathematician? A: He stares at YOUR shoes while talking to you.
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From: Joachim Verhagen. One of my students told me about a conversation he had with another student. The other student studied law and Jim asked why he did that. Law student: I can get a good job by studying law. Jim : And why do you want a good job? Law student: I will earn a lot of money with a good job. Jim : And why do want to earn a lot of money? Law student: I can buy a big car and a house, marry a woman and start a family. Jim : And why do want all those things? Law student: That makes me happy. Jim : I study mathematics and by studying mathematics I reach the same in one step as doing mathematics makes me happy directly. Adapted from part of an article by Hendrik Lenstra in Natuur & Techniek, October 2001.
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From: Keith King <keithkng#NoSpam.gnt.net> A mathematician was in a habit of making a cup of tea when working late at night. His normal method was to get the teapot from the cupboard, take the teapot to the sink, add water, heat to boiling, then make the cup of tea. Unfortunately, one night when he went to make tea, the teapot was already full of water and sitting on the stove. He thought about this for several minutes, then emptied the teapot and put it back in the cupboard, thereby reducing this to a previously solved problem.
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From: Grozzybrokedown#NoSpam.aol.com A mathematician organized a raffle in which the prize was advertised as an infinite amount of money. He sold all the tickets quickly. When the winning ticket was drawn, and the happy winner came to claim his prize, the mathematician explained the mode of payment: 1 dollar now, 1/2 a dollar next week, 1/3 a dollar the week after that...
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From: Joachim Verhagen. Special Category: Famous last words Famous last words Mathematician: And now we divide by zero.
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Special Category: You might be a scientist if... From: Aubrey Jaffer <agj#NoSpam.alum.mit.edu> You Might be a Mathematician if ... * hypergeometric summations are the most fun you can have with your clothes on; * you cannot refrain from blurting out counterexamples when someone claims an impossibility; * at the age of 19 your most productive years are behind you; * your major result will be named for someone else; * you make mistakes ... but they are really interesting mistakes; * you wonder how Euler pronounced "Euclid"; * you understand all the mathematics Gauss produced ... through age 13; * Russel's letter to Frege adorns your wall; * your major was Mathematics, minor Caffeine; * you know all of the Greek alphabet, but not a word of Greek; * your favorite story is Pretty Poly Nomial and Curly Pi; * irresistible little combinatorics puzzles keep appearing like a nervous tic; * your progeny are relieved to learn that Mathematics is not a heritable genetic trait; * the solution to every problem involves counting balls into boxes; * you can fold planar strips into regular polyhedra ... entirely in your head; * doing something more than once is boring; * you suffer dental and gum disease because brushing teeth more than once was boring; * you have already obtained your next three years of reading material; * it is difficult to plan for retirement given the current state of the continuum hypothesis; * you celebrate Erd५s's birthday decadently with donuts and champagne in paper cups; * you remember postal addresses by means of number theory: "The smallest integer which is the sum of two cubes in two different ways"; * you count on your fingers in binary; * your romantic relationship is stressed when you show too much interest in your beloved's mathematician acquaintances; * you know a sixletter word with three vowels, all of which are "y"; (In case you are as ignorant as me: It is syzygy. Syzygy is the position of an object when it is in line with other objects. It is then "at syzygy".  Joachim.) * you learned French so you could read Bourbaki; * you bring Bourbaki's Varietes Differentielles Analytiques Fascicule de Resultats on vacation; * you don't bother taking vacations when you can read Bourbaki at home; * you visit Earth primarily for lectures and family obligations; * your opinion of A Beautiful Mind is "been there; done that." Copyright 2002 Aubrey Jaffer http://swissnet.ai.mit.edu/~jaffer/YMBAMI From: qqquet#NoSpam.mindspring.com (Leroy Quet) * you tell those who ask you what you do for a living that you are a mathematician.... which is a lie... * you think of math as an art, not as a science... * you would rewrite the above joke as :'you think of math as an art, not ONLY as a science'... * you think that jokes about math are funny... From: qqquet#NoSpam.mindspring.com (Leroy Quet) One more. related to last one I gave: * you MUST reply to your original reply to news:sci.math just to point out that "You know you are a mathematician when" you appreciate humor which is in any way selfreferential... From: Joona I Palaste <palaste#NoSpam.cc.helsinki.fi> You know you are a mathematician when you find yourself saying "there exists" instead of "there is". From: "Russell Easterly" <logiclab#NoSpam.attbi.com> You Might be a Mathematician if ... * You get into heated arguments over 0.999... = 1.0... From: Joona I Palaste <palaste#NoSpam.cc.helsinki.fi> * Or into heated arguments whether "Two coins are tossed and one is heads" is any different from "Two coins are tossed. Given that one is heads". From: "Russell Easterly" <logiclab#NoSpam.attbi.com> You Might be a Mathematician if ... You think Cantor's set is "beautiful" Your retirement plans include solving the twin prime conjecture You think finding a new formula that sums to e is cool Cantor's diagonal proof makes sense to you You spend time helping people you don't know do their homework You have read articles with titles like "Betti numbers of Z^ngraded modules" You know the difference between a conjecture and a theorem You care how people pronounce "Euler" You think Zeno was a troublemaker You know what an "Erdos number" is You have an Erdos number You write emails in Latex NNTPPostingDate: Sun, 01 Apr 2007 19:42:06 0500 From: quasi <quasi#NoSpam.null.set> When the doctor announced that your great aunt had just expired, you challenged the claim for lack of rigor. When giving a lecture in a room with windows, people from the outside are always waving back. When being interrogated as a suspect by the police, and asked to prove your innocence, you started off by saying "Assume instead that I'm guilty ..." at which point you were promptly arrested. From: Aubrey Jaffer <agj#NoSpam.alum.mit.edu> * your fame lies in posing the question you can't answer; * you have calculated how many ways (ignoring reflections) there are of lacing your sneaker; * you know why adhesive tape always rips at an angle ... and derived the angle formula; * you celebrate Rota's birthday decadently with donuts and champagne in paper cups; * you celebrate Erd५s's birthday furtively with Benzedrine chased by a double espresso; * you celebrate Nash's birthday psychotically with LSD while riding a bicycle in figure eights; * unemployment is a welcome opportunity to make progress on your life's work; * caffeine is one of your major food groups; * your correspondence has footnotes and bibliography; Copyright ऊ 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 Aubrey Jaffer From: "Dave L. Renfro" <renfr1dl#NoSpam.cmich.edu> * Your internet experience is such that you're surprised when you sometimes stumble on a nonmathematical web page. * When you read about Hillary Clinton saying her false claim was a "minor blip" among the "millions of words" she spoke everyday, you figure you don't get the joke, since everyone knows one million seconds is a little over eleven and a half days. * You cringe each time you read or hear someone use the phrase "and conversely" incorrectly. From: "I.N. Galidakis" <morpheus#NoSpam.olympus.mons> Anywhere you look at, you just see streams of number sequences. From: amy666 <tommy1729#NoSpam.hotmail.com> if you went to see the movie the matrix because you assumed it was about math :)
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From: Marcin Mieszek <mieszek#NoSpam.post.pl> A mathematician found out that a pipe was leaking, so he called a plumber. The plumber changed a gasket and asked for $100. "But how is it possible? You've been working for only 10 minutes and it takes me full week to earn $100", exclaimed the mathematician. "Well, that's why I became a plumber. But let me tell you something  I'll give you the address of my company. Go there and say that you want to work as a plumber. And don't mention that you are a mathematician." And so the mathematician did. Soon he earned quite a lot of money. But the company decided to educate the plumbers and send them to primary school. On the first day the mathematician was asked to write the equation for the surface of a circle on the blackboard. He could not remember it, but he wanted to use integral calculus to derive it. However, he made some error and obtained a negative result. He repeated the calculations twice, thrice  and still obtained a negative result. He looked stressed at the class and found all the fellow plumbers shouting to him: "Change the range of integration! Change the range of integration!"
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From: snispilbor#NoSpam.yahoo.com (Snis Pilbor) Theologian: You mathematicians are blind. Don't you know man is more than just numbers? Mathematician: You're right! ...(prolonged pause)... man is sets!
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June 23 Februari 10 From: snispilbor#NoSpam.yahoo.com (Snis Pilbor) A mathematician and a physicist are in a bar... Mathematician: I've been working on this problem regarding Turing computability. The question is, if a person used sound reasoning, could he program a computer to evaluate this function... Physicist: You should get some people in a lab and ask them to write such a program. See what happens. Mathematician: Ah, but the problem is, it is impossible to duplicate sound reasoning in a laboratory environment!
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June 19 August 19 Special Category: Blaise Pascal From: "Snis Pilbor" <snispilbor#NoSpam.yahoo.com> And now a more serious, pseudojoke from obscure math history... In his "Provincial Letters", Blaise Pascal visciously attacked the Jesuit sect. He exposed the Jesuit tactic of winning followers by creating very comfortable doctrine. The Jesuits boasted that their doctrine would appeal to any person, be they aristocrat, gentleman, commoner, soldier, monk, even criminal. This was accomplished by using very contrived interpretations of Scripture and other holy writings to justify the vices of each class criminals could commit their crime and be held guiltless, gentlemen could engage in duels, soldiers and monks could disobey their superiors, etc. This disgusted Pascal to the point of attacking the Jesuits as he did. Now the question is, why oh why didn't the Jesuits think to include mathematicians in their schemes? If only they had devised doctrine to allow mathematicians to prove theorems without shame and guilt, not only would Pascal no doubt have accepted and cherished their doctrine, he would have gone on to be the greatest mathematical genius of all time!
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From: lnhxmz302#NoSpam.sneakemail.com (Andrew Stimpson) moonlighting mathematician? During a study session for our final exams, a fellow grad student said that she thought that our math professor had been working on the final iteself when she had stopped by for last minute help during his office hours, mostly because he closed a text editor window right after she came into the room. Another in the group quipped that maybe he was working on his latest Harlequin romance novel. "God, I hope not." she responded. "He was writing it in LaTeX."
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From: "socratus" http://www.socratus.com One professional mathematician came to give a lecture. There is nobody in the classroom, but he has a plan and he begins his monologue. Becoming enthusiastic he suddenly notices two students in the room. He continues the lecture joyfully and after some time he notices that three of them are going away. "Here it is, mathematician thinks sadly, now one more student will come and nobody will be here again".
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From: "Dr Andy Ma" <andyma#NoSpam.physics.org> Special Category: Scientists do it... How do Monte Carloists do it? They do it randomly. How do Monte Carloists do it? They avoid repeated histories. How do Monte Carloists do it? They do it a large number of times. How do Monte Carloists really do it? They don't; they just simulate it. Special Category: Old scientists never die... Old Monte Carloists never die, they run out of random numbers. Old Monte Carloists never die, they become correlated histories.
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From: Arthur <artyw2#NoSpam.yahoo.com> and Dave Skinner <skinn...#NoSpam.gmail.com>: An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer, the second orders half a beer the third asks for a quarter of a beer. Before the next one can speak, the bartender says "You're all idiots", and pours two beers. A good bartender cuts people off before they reach their limit.
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