More Mathematical Humour

Friday 25 February 2005 at 3:47 pm | In Articles | 2 Comments

The American Mathematical Society has published a paper called Foolproof: A Sampling of Mathematical Folk Humor aimed at professional mathematicians who would understand jokes like:

    Q: What do you get if you cross a mosquito with a mountain climber?
    A: You can’t cross a vector with a scalar.

    Q: How many topologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A: Just one, but what will you do with the doughnut?

    Q: Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?
    A: To get to the other–er….

If you understand what Bourbaki is all about then this one is lovely:

    Q: How many Bourbakists does it take to replace a lightbulb?
    A: Changing a lightbulb is a special case of a more general theorem concerning the maintenance and repair of an electrical system. To establish upper and lower bounds for the number of personnel required, we must determine whether the sufficient conditions of Lemma 2.1 (Availability of personnel) and those of Corollary (2.3.55 Motivation of personnel) apply. If and only if these conditions are met, we derive the result by an application of the theorems in Section 3.1123. The resulting upper bound is, of course, a result in an abstract measure space, in the weak-* topology.

Not heard of Nicholas Bourbaki? Then find out all about them (sic) at PlanetMath and Wikipedia

Comic Sections

Sunday 13 February 2005 at 2:53 pm | In Articles | 8 Comments

Comic Sections is the funniest mathematics book I have read and I (and others) giggled all the way through it – how many maths books can you say that about? It is a collection of mathematical jokes, poems, reviews, howlers, riddles, wit etc etc which vary from the low-level

    90° is the boiling-point of a right-angled triangle

via calculus

    \displaystyle \int \frac{d(\text{cabin})}{\text{cabin}}=\log(\text{cabin})+\text{sea}

to the more advanced

    Q. What is a kittegory? A. A small category

via a journal review

    This book creates a much-needed gap in mathematics

and on to a final exam question

    Discuss the advances made in algebra since the invention of the phrase “char F \neq 2″

I have already quoted from the book a couple of times here

There’s no way I can do justice to the book so you have no choice but to buy a copy :) Yes, it’s out of print but the author Desmond MacHale, will sell you one. This is what he told me:

    I have about 100 softback copies remaining which sell at a trickle because I don’t promote it and they retail at $15 US including postage if you want to spread the word about. Yes I really should rewrite it but I am busy working on Beauty in Mathematics which I hope will be influential;there are of course many new mathematical jokes since I wrote CS.One of my favourites is What is the difference between an introvert mathematician an an extrovert mathematician? Well,when an IM is talking to you he looks at his shoes;when an EM is talking to you he looks at your shoes!
    My postal address is Dept of Mathematics, University College, CORK,Ireland.
    Best regards, Des MacHale
    PS Key in my name on Amazon.com or abebooks.com to find my other stuff on jokes,WIT,movies and lateral thinking puzzles, if you want to punish yourself further for Lent.

Blogs with Mathematics

Friday 4 February 2005 at 3:49 pm | In Articles | Post Comment

If you want to be able to create your own blog which can use \LaTeX, rather like this blog, then Art of Problem Solving has recently added this facility to its forum. See here for details. You will need to register on their forum to take advantage of it.

While you’re there, do investigate the wealth of mathematics contained in the forum – maybe you’ll be hooked 8-)

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