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Here is the "Canonical List of Math Jokes" collection, in 10 parts! You may also be interested in another collection of science and math humor from Joachim Verhagen. There is some math humor here that I haven't collected yet, as well as humor in various areas of science. http://www.xs4all.nl/~jcdverha/scijokes/ Parts 7 - 10 of this "Canonical List of Math Jokes" contain material from Joachim's collection, with permission. Some new humor items are at the beginning of this section. New ones from Joachim are in part 10. For some math related comics try "Brandon's Math Comics" at: http://www.csun.edu/~hcmth014/comics.html For "Images of Mathematicians on Postage Stamps" see: http://www.geocities.com/mathstamps/index.html For "Math on Stamps" see: http://www.geocities.com/davidstoneuk/index.html Is it possible? Information on the world's first illegal prime may be found at: http://primes.utm.edu/curios/page.php?number_id=953 and http://www.utm.edu/research/primes/glossary/Illegal.html When I started this collection quite some time ago in an effort to reduce the traffic and repetition on rec.humor and to gather math humor in one place, I failed to save humor attributions and thereby violated netiquette. Most of the items, I'm sure, were 2nd, 3rd, etc., -hand anyway, but if you know of an original piece of humor without attribution, and you can make a good claim, let me know. Michael Cook ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "There are only 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A while back in my company's technical library, I found proof that mathematics is dull, at least for engineers. On the shelf, with Dewey decimal number 510 D, is the book "Mathematics for Engineers", 2nd. ed., McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York and London, 1941. The author? Raymond W. Dull Finally proof for all those who truly thought math *was* Dull! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A serious word problem. Do you know the solution? ================================================== The combined age of a ship and its boiler is 48 years. The ship is twice as old as the boiler was when the ship was half as old as the boiler will be when the boiler is three times as old as the ship was when the ship was three times as old as the boiler. How old is the ship? What are the mathematical equations that will solve this problem? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "I can't explain this. I think it's obvious, though." - an MIT Algebraic Geometry professor, March 17, 2000 [From 'Quote of the Day', Submitted by: Rick Sayre, Mar. 20, 2000] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Obvious" is the most dangerous word in mathematics. -- Bell, Eric Temple (1883-1960) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Here is a good, animated web site that illustrates the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. It is an interesting proof, using shearing and translation of triangles. http://www.math.ubc.ca/~morey/java/pyth/ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Just recently, I rediscovered an interesting piece that I had read years ago. It it the article on non-standard ways to find the height of a building given a barometer. A student gives several non-traditional ways to do this. Read the article at: http://www.cut-the-knot.com/manifesto/thinking.html or: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/angelpin.htm The article is by Alexander Calandra and appeared first in "The Saturday Review" (December 21, 1968, p 60). It is also in the collection "More Random Walks in Science" by R.L.Weber, The Institute of Physics, 1982. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Richard CarrApologies in advance: A new PhD in algebra gets a temporary position at a university for a year. He bumps into one of the faculty and, having the cockiness and arrogance of youth, says to him, "I have heard it said that all logicians go insane. Why then did you decide to study Model Theory?" "My dear doctor, very few logicians go insane but the entire algebra faculty is seeing the psychiatrist," replied the logician. Thusly tempered, the young man replies uncertainly, "The entire faculty?" "Yes, they're all in group therapy." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What is (15 minus three times five) plus (20 minus four times five) plus (36 minus nine times four) plus (72 minus nine times eight) plus (98 minus eight times twelve) plus (56 minus seven times eight) [... and on and on ...]? A lot of work for nothing. -- as told to me by my daughter Amy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: jfunk@adams.net (jim funk) A piece of string walked into a small town on a hot, dusty day. He was thirsty, so he sauntered into the first establishment he encountered and asked the waiter for a glass of water. "Sorry", said the waiter, "we don't serve strings here." Discouraged, the string walked out. A little further down the street, he met a stranger. "You look hot," said the stranger. "Why don't you go into that cafe and get a drink of water?" "I tried that," said the string, "but the waiter wouldn't serve me anything because I'm just a string." "No problem" said the stranger. "I'll fix you up." He grabbed the string, tied him in a bowline and frayed his ends. "Now try it." The string slipped back into the cafe and asked the waiter for a glass of water. "Hey," said the waiter, "aren't you the piece of string that was just in here?" "Nope," retorted the string, "I'm a frayed knot." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yucks Digest Sun, 9 Nov 97 Volume 7 : Issue 22 From: "Roberts, Robin" Engineers and scientists will never make as much money as business executives. Now follows a rigorous mathematical Proof that explains why this is true: Postulate 1: Knowledge is Power. Postulate 2: Time is Money. As every engineer knows, Work ---- = Power Time Since Knowledge = Power, and Time = Money, we have Work ----- = Knowledge Money Solving for Money, we get: Work --------- = Money Knowledge Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity regardless of the Work done. Conclusion: The Less you Know, the more you Make. Note: It has been speculated that the reason why Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard's math program was because he stumbled upon this proof as an undergraduate, and dedicated the rest of his career to the pursuit of ignorance. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Math and Alcohol don't mix, so... PLEASE DON'T DRINK AND DERIVE Then there's every parent's scream when their child walks into the room dazed and staggering: OH NO...YOU'VE BEEN TAKING DERIVATIVES!! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Dave Boll I was email-chatting 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.omn.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. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The following is from a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon dated 3/6/91. Calvin: You know, I don't think math is a science, I think it's a religion. Hobbes: A religion? Calvin: Yeah. All these equations are like miracles. You take two numbers and when you add them, they magically become one NEW number! No one can say how it happens. You either believe it or you don't. [Pointing at his math book] This whole book is full of things that have to be accepted on faith! It's a religion! Hobbes: And in the public schools no less. Call a lawyer. Calvin: [Looking at his homework] As a math athiest, I should be excused from this. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For those few who can't remember the value of PI to the 30th place the following mnemonic may be of help. The number of letters in each word represents the value of the digit: This appeared in Nature, October 20, 1994 in a letter from W. E. Ormerod who was quoting from G. F. Hull's "An Elementary Survey of Modern Physics". "Qui j'aime a faire apprendre un nombre util aux sages! Immortel Archimede, artiste ingenieur Qui de ton jugement peut priser la valuer? Pour moi, ton probleme eut de parieiles avantages." (Notes: You are on your own for the diacritical marks.) Submitted by: harvey@acf2.NYU.EDU (harvey) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THIRTEEN MISUNDERSTANDINGS IN THE HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS In the interest of historical accuracy let it be known that .... 1) Fibonacci's daughter was not named "Bunny". 2) Michael Rolle was not Danish, and did not call his daughter "Tootsie". 3) William Horner was not called "Little-Jack" by his friends. 4) The "G" in G. Peano does not stand for "grand". 5) Rene Descartes' middle name is not "push". 6) Isaac Barrow's middle name is not "wheel". 7) There is no such place as the University of Wis-cosine, and if there was, the motto of their mathematics department would not be "Secant ye shall find." 8) Although Euler is pronounced oil-er, it does not follow that Euclid is pronounced oi-clid. 9) Franklin D. Roosevelt never said "The only thing we have to sphere is sphere itself." 10) Fibonacci is not a shortened form of the Italian name that is actually spelled: F i bb ooo nnnnn aaaaaaaa ccccccccccccc ccccccccccccccccccccc iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. 11) It is true that August Mobius was a difficult and opinionated man. But he was not so rigid that he could only see one side to every question. 12) It is true that Johannes Kepler had an uphill struggle in explaining his theory of elliptical orbits to the other astronomers of his time. And it is also true that his first attempt was a failure. But it is not true that after his lecture the first three questions he was asked were "What is elliptical?", "What is an orbit?", and "What is a planet? 13) It is true that primitive societies use only rough approximations for the known constants of mathematics. For example, the northern tribes of Alaska consider the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle to be 3. But it is not true that the value of 3 is called Eskimo pi. Incidentally, the survival of these tribes is dependent upon government assistance, which is not always forthcoming. For example, the Canadian firm of Tait and Sons sold a stock of defective compasses to the government at half-price, and the government passed them onto the northern natives. Hence the saying among these peoples: "He who has a Tait's is lost." --From Michael Stueben: high school math/C.S. teacher E-mail address: mstueben@pen.k12.va.us ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q: What does (x-a)(x-b)(x-c)...(x-z) equal? A: [Hint: check out the 24th factor]. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The three laws of thermodynamics: 1. You can't win the game. 2. You can't break even. 3. You can't even quit. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Here's a limerick I picked up off the net a few years back - looks better on paper. 3_ \/3 / | 2 3 X pi 3_ | z dz X cos(--------) = ln (\/e ) | 9 / 1 Which, of course, translates to: Integral z-squared dz from 1 to the cube root of 3 times the cosine of three pi over 9 equals log of the cube root of 'e'. And it's correct, too. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This poem was written by John Saxon (an author of math textbooks). ((12 + 144 + 20 + (3 * 4^(1/2))) / 7) + (5 * 11) = 9^2 + 0 Or for those who have trouble with the poem: A Dozen, a Gross and a Score, plus three times the square root of four, divided by seven, plus five times eleven, equals nine squared and not a bit more. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 'Tis a favorite project of mine A new value of pi to assign. I would fix it at 3 For it's simpler, you see, Than 3 point 1 4 1 5 9. ("The Lure of the Limerick" by W.S. Baring-Gould, p.5. Attributed to Harvey L. Carter). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If inside a circle a line Hits the center and goes spine to spine And the line's length is "d" the circumference will be d times 3.14159 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If (1+x) (real close to 1) Is raised to the power of 1 Over x, you will find Here's the value defined: 2.718281... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- An engineer thinks that his equations are an approximation to reality. A physicist thinks reality is an approximation to his equations. A mathematician doesn't care. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Why is the number 10 afraid of seven? -- because seven ate nine. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We use epsilons and deltas in mathematics because mathematicians tend to make errors. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q: What's big, grey, and proves the uncountability of the reals? A: Cantor's Diagonal Elephant! Q: How can you tell that Harvard was layed out by a mathematician? A: The div school [divinity school] is right next to the grad school... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center was known as SLAC, until the big earthquake, when it became known as SPLAC. SPLAC? Stanford Piecewise Linear Accelerator. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q: How many topologists does it take to change a light bulb? A: It really doesn't matter, since they'd rather knot. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A mathematician decides he wants to learn more about practical problems. He sees a seminar with a nice title: "The Theory of Gears." So he goes. The speaker stands up and begins, "The theory of gears with a real number of teeth is well known ..." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A group of scientists were doing an investigation into problem-solving techniques, and constructed an experiment involving a physicist, an engineer, and a mathematician. The experimental apparatus consisted of a water spigot and two identical pails, one of which was fastened to the ground ten feet from the spigot. Each of the subjects was given the second pail, empty, and told to fill the pail on the ground. The physicist was the first subject: he carried his pail to the spigot, filled it there, carried it full of water to the pail on the ground, and poured the water into it. Standing back, he declared, "There: I have solved the problem." The engineer and the mathematician each approached the problem similarly. Upon finishing, the engineer noted that the solution was exact, since the volumes of the pails were equal. The mathematician merely noted that he had proven that a solution exists. Now, the experimenters altered the parameters of the task a bit: the pail on the ground was still empty, but the subjects were presented with a pail that was already half-filled with water. The physicist immediately carried his pail over to the one on the ground, emptied the water into it, went back to the spigot, *filled* the pail, and finally emptied the entire contents into the pail on the ground, overflowing it and spilling some of the water. Upon finishing, he commented that the problem should have been better stated. The engineer, in turn, thought for some time before going into action. He then took his half-filled pail to the spigot, filled it to the brim, and filled the pail on the ground from it. Again he noted that the problem had an exact solution, which of course he had found. The mathematician thought for a long time before stirring. At last he stood up, emptied his pail onto the ground, and declared, "The problem has been reduced to one already solved." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Professor Dirac, a famous Applied Mathematician-Physicist, had a horse shoe over his desk. One day a student asked if he really believed that a horse shoe brought luck. Professor Dirac replied, "I understand that it brings you luck if you believe in it or not." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- First of all let me make it clear that I have nothing against contravariant functors. Some of my best friends are cohomology theories! But now you aren't supposed to call them contravariant anymore. It's Algebraically Correct to call them 'differently arrowed'!! In the same way that transcendental numbers are polynomially challenged? Manifolds are personifolds (humanifolds). Neighborhoods are neighbor victims of society. It's the Asian Remainder Theorem. It isn't PC to use "singularity" - the function is "convergently challenged" there. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Why did the computer scientist die in the shower? Because he read the instructions on the shampoo bottle, "Lather, rinse, repeat." Why did the calculus student have so much trouble making Kool-Aid? Because he couldn't figure out how to get a quart of water into the little package. Q: Why do computer scientists confuse Christmas and Halloween? A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Here are some phrases used to remember SIN, COS, and TAN. (SIN = Opposite/Hypotenuse, COS = Adjacent/H, TAN = O/A). 1. SOHCAHTOA (sock-a-toe-a) 2. The Cat Sat On An Orange And Howled Hard 3. Some Old Hulks Carry A Huge Tub Of Ale 4. Silly Old Hitler Caused Awful Headaches To Our Airmen 5. Some Old Hag Cracked All Her Teeth On Asparagus 6. Some Old Hairy Camels Are Hairier Than Others Are 7. Silly Old Harry Caught A Herring Trawling Off America 8. SOPHY, CADHY, TOAD 9. Some Old Horse Caught Another Horse Taking Oats Away 10. Some Opera Houses (From: johnf@thuridion.com) Can Always Have The Overture Again --------------------------------units and dimensions------------- 2 monograms 1 diagram 8 nickles 2 paradigms 2 wharves 1 paradox 10E5 bicycles 2 megacycles 1 unit of suspense in an Agatha Christie novel 1 whod unit ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: johnf@thuridion.com Q: What goes "Pieces of nine! Pieces of nine!"? A: A parroty error!! [Hint: Compare the binary values of 8 and 9. -- MLC] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q: What did the circle say to the tangent line? A: "Stop touching me!" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The upgrade path to the most powerful and satisfying computer: * Pocket calculator * Commodore Pet / Apple II / TRS 80 / Commodore 64 / Timex Sinclair (Choose any of the above) * IBM PC * Apple Macintosh * Fastest workstation of the time (HP, DEC, IBM, SGI: your choice) * Minicomputer (HP, DEC, IBM, SGI: your choice) * Mainframe (IBM, Cray, DEC: your choice) And then you reach the pinnacle of modern computing facilities: ********************************************************* ******* G R A D U A T E S T U D E N T S ******** ********************************************************* Yes, you just sit back and do all of your computing through lowly graduate students. Imagine the advantages: * Multi-processing, with as many processes as you have students. You can easily add more power by promising more desperate undergrads that they can indeed escape college through your guidance. Special student units can even handle several tasks *on*their*own*! * Full voice recognition interface. Never touch a keyboard or mouse again. Just mumble commands and they *will* be understood (or else!). * No hardware upgrades and no installation required. Every student comes complete with all hardware necessary. Never again fry a chip or $10,000 board by improper installation! Just sit that sniveling student at a desk, give it writing utensils (making sure to point out which is the dangerous end) and off it goes. * Low maintenance. Remember when that hard disk crashed in your Beta 9900, causing all of your work to go the great bit bucket in the sky? This won't happen with grad students. All that is required is that you give them a good *whack!* upside the head when they are acting up, and they will run good as new. * Built-in lifetime. Remember that awful feeling two years after you bought your GigaPlutz mainframe when the new faculty member on the block sneered at you because his FeelyWup workstation could compute rings around your dinosaur? This doesn't happen with grad students. When they start wearing and losing productivity, simply give them the PhD and boot them out onto the street to fend for themselves. Out of sight, out of mind! * Cheap fuel: students run on Coca Cola (or the high-octane equivalent -- Jolt Cola) and typically consume hot spicy chinese dishes, cheap taco substitutes, or completely synthetic macaroni replacements. It is entirely unnecessary to plug the student into the wall socket (although this does get them going a little faster from time to time). * Expansion options. If your grad students don't seem to be performing too well, consider adding a handy system manager or software engineer upgrade. These guys are guaranteed to require even less than a student, and typically establish permanent residence in the computer room. You'll never know they are around! (Which you certainly can't say for an AXZ3000-69 150 gigahertz space-heater sitting on your desk with its ten noisy fans....) [Note however that the engineering department still hasn't worked out some of the idiosyncratic bugs in these expansion options, such as incessant muttering at nobody in particular, occasionaly screaming at your grad students, and posting ridiculous messages on world-wide bulletin boards.] So forget your Babbage Engines and abacuses (abaci?) and PortaBooks and DEK 666-3D's and all that other silicon garbage. The wave of the future is in wetware, so invest in graduate students today! You'll never go back! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- He thinks he's really smooth, but he's only C^1. He's always going off on a tangent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If I have seen farther than others, it is because I stood on the shoulder of giants. -- Isaac Newton If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson In computer science, we stand on each other's feet. -- Brian K. Reid

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Last modified 20-July-2002.