There was an Indian Chief, and he had three squaws, and kept them in three
teepees. When he would come home late from hunting, he would not know which
teepee contained which squaw, being dark and all. He went hunting one day,
and killed a hippopotamus, a bear, and a buffalo. He put the a hide from each
animal into a different teepee, so that when he came home late, he could feel
inside the teepee and he would know which squaw was inside.
Well after about a year, all three squaws had children. The squaw on the
bear had a baby boy, the squaw on the buffalo hide had a baby girl. But the
squaw on the hippopotamus had a girl and a boy. So what is the moral of the
The squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the
other two hides.
There was once a very smart horse. Anything that was shown it, it
mastered easily, until one day, its teachers tried to teach it about
rectanguar coordinates and it couldn't understand them. All the horse's
aquaintences and friends tried to figure out what was the matter and couldn't.
Then a new guy (what the heck, a computer engineer) looked at the problem and
said, "Of course he can't do it. Why, you're putting Descartes before the
"What do you get when you cross an elephant with a banana?
Elephant banana sine theta in a direction mutually perpendicular to the two
as determined by the right hand rule."
TOP TEN EXCUSES FOR NOT DOING THE MATH HOMEWORK
- I accidentally divided by zero and my paper burst into flames.
- Isaac Newton's birthday.
- I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook. I couldn't actually
- I have the proof, but there isn't room to write it in this margin.
- I was watching the World Series and got tied up trying to prove that it
- I have a solar powered calculator and it was cloudy.
- I locked the paper in my trunk but a four-dimensional dog got in and ate
- I couldn't figure out whether i am the square of negative one or i is the
square root of negative one.
- I took time out to snack a doughnut and a cup of coffee. I spent the
rest of the night trying to figure which one to dunk.
- I could have sworn I put the homework inside a Klein bottle, but this
morning I couldn't find it.
A Physicist and a mathematician setting in a faculty lounge. Suddenly, the
coffee machine catches on fire. The physicist grabs a bucket and leap towards
the sink, filled the bucket with water and puts out the fire. Second day, the
same two sit in the same lounge. Again, the coffee machine catches on fire.
This time, the mathematician stands up, got a bucket, hand the bucket to the
physicist, thus reduce the problem to a previousely solved one.
An engineer, a mathematician, and a physicist are staying in three
adjoiningcabins at a decrepit old motel.
First the engineer's coffee maker catches fire on the bathroom vanity. He
smells the smoke, wakes up, unplugs it, throws it out the window, and goes
back to sleep.
Later that night the physicist smells smoke too. He wakes up and sees that
a cigarette butt has set the trash can on fire. He says to himself, "Hmm.
How does one put out a fire? One can reduce the temperature of the fuel below
the flash point, isolate the burning material from oxygen, or both. This
could be accomplished by applying water." So he picks up the trash can, puts
it in the shower stall, turns on the water, and, when the fire is out, goes
back to sleep.
The mathematician, of course, has been watching all this out the window.
So later, when he finds that his pipe ashes have set the bedsheet on fire, he
is not in the least taken aback. He immediately sees that the problem reduces
to one that has already been solved and goes back to sleep.
So a mathematician, an engineer, and a physicist are out hunting together.
They spy a deer in the woods.
The physicist calculates the velocity of the deer* and the effect of
gravity on the bullet, aims his rifle and fires. Alas, he misses; the bullet
passes three feet behind the deer. The deer bolts some yards, but comes to a
halt, still within sight of the trio.
"Shame you missed," comments the engineer, "but of course with an ordinary
gun, one would expect that." He then levels his special deer-hunting gun,
which he rigged together from an ordinary rifle, a sextant, a compass, a
barometer, and a bunch of flashing lights which don't do anything but impress
onlookers, and fires. Alas, his bullet passes three feet in front of the
deer, who by this time wises up and vanishes for good.
"Well," says the physicist, "your contraption didn't get it either."
"What do you mean?" pipes up the mathematician. "Between the two of you,
that was a perfect shot!"
*How they knew it was a deer:
The physicist observed that it behaved in a deer-like manner, so it must
be a deer.
The mathematician asked the physicist what it was, thereby reducing it to
a previously solved problem.
The engineer was in the woods to hunt deer, therefore it was a deer.
A mathematician and a physicist were asked the following question:
Suppose you walked by a burning house and saw a hydrant and a hose not
connected to the hydrant. What would you do?
P: I would attach the hose to the hydrant, turn on the water, and put out
M: I would attach the hose to the hydrant, turn on the water, and put out
Then they were asked this question:
Suppose you walked by a house and saw a hose connected to a hydrant. What
would you do?
P: I would keep walking, as there is no problem to solve.
M: I would disconnect the hose from the hydrant and set the house on fire,
reducing the problem to a previously solved form.
A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer are given an identical
problem: Prove that all odd numbers greater than 2 are prime numbers. They
Mathematician: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is not a
prime - counterexample - claim is false.
Physicist: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is an experimental
error, 11 is a prime, ...
Engineer: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is a prime, 11 is a
A Mathemetician (M) and an Engineer (E) attend a lecture by a Physicist.
The topic concerns Kulza-Klein theories involving physical processes that
occur in spaces with dimensions of 9, 12 and even higher. The M is sitting,
clearly enjoying the lecture, while the E is frowning and looking generally
confused and puzzled. By the end the E has a terrible headache. At the end,
the M comments about the wonderful lecture. The E says, "How do you
understand this stuff?"
M: "I just visualize the process."
E: "How can you POSSIBLY visualize something that occurs in 9-dimensional
M: "Easy, first visualize it in N-dimensional space, then let N go to
The guy gets on a bus and starts threatening everybody: "I'll integrate
you! I'll differentiate you!!!"
So everybody gets scared and runs away. Only one person stays. The guy
comes up to him and says: "Aren't you scared, I'll integrate you, I'll
And the other guy says, "No, I am not scared, I am e^x."
Why did the cat fall off the roof?
Because he lost his mu. (mew=sound cats make, mu=coeff of friction)
Q: What do you call a teapot of boiling water on top of mount everest?
A: A HIGH-POT-IN-USE
Q: What do you call a broken record?
A: A Decca-gone
When considering the behaviour of a howitzer:
A mathematician will be able to calculate where the shell will land.
A physicist will be able to explain how the shell gets there.
An engineer will stand there and try to catch it.
A mathematician and a physicist agree to a psychological experiment. The
mathematician is put in a chair in a large empty room and a beautiful naked
woman is placed on a bed at the other end of the room. The psychologist
explains, "You are to remain in your chair. Every five minutes, I will move
your chair to a position halfway between its current location and the woman on
the bed." The mathematician looks at the psychologist in disgust. "What?
I'm not going to go through this. You know I'll never reach the bed!" And he
gets up and storms out. The psychologist makes a note on his clipboard and
ushers the physicist in. He explains the situation, and the physicist's eyes
light up and he starts drooling. The psychologist is a bit confused. "Don't
you realize that you'll never reach her?" The physicist smiles and replied,
"Of course! But I'll get close enough for all practical purposes!"
Q: What do you get if you cross an elephant with a mountain climber.
A: You can't do that. A mountain climber is a scalar.
A somewhat advanced society has figured how to package basic knowledge in
A student, needing some learning, goes to the pharmacy and asks what kind
of knowledge pills are available. The pharmacist says, "Here's a pill for
English literature." The student takes the pill and swallows it and has new
knowledge about English literature!
"What else do you have?" asks the student.
"Well, I have pills for art history, biology, and world history," replies
The student asks for these, and swallows them and has new knowledge about
Then the student asks, "Do you have a pill for math?"
The pharmacist says, "Wait just a moment", and goes back into the
storeroom and brings back a whopper of a pill and plunks it on the counter.
"I have to take that huge pill for math?" inquires the student.
The pharmacist replied, "Well, you know math always was a little hard to
Q:What did the acorn say when it grew up?
Q. What does a mathematician do when he's constipated?
A. He works it out with a pencil.
"Algebraic symbols are used when you do not know what you are talking
Moebius always does it on the same side.
Heisenberg might have slept here.
There was a mad scientist ( a mad ...social... scientist ) who kidnapped
three colleagues, an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician, and locked
each of them in seperate cells with plenty of canned food and water but no can
A month later, returning, the mad scientist went to the engineer's cell and
found it long empty. The engineer had constructed a can opener from pocket
trash, used aluminum shavings and dried sugar to make an explosive, and
The physicist had worked out the angle necessary to knock the lids off the
tin cans by throwing them against the wall. She was developing a good
pitching arm and a new quantum theory.
The mathematician had stacked the unopened cans into a surprising solution
to the kissing problem; his dessicated corpse was propped calmly against a
wall, and this was inscribed on the floor in blood:
Theorem: If I can't open these cans, I'll die.
Proof: assume the opposite...
Three men are in a hot-air 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."
(I'm not sure if the following one is a true story or not)
The great logician Betrand Russell (or was it A.N. Whitehead?) once
claimed that he could prove anything if given that 1+1=1.
So one day, some smarty-pants asked him, "Ok. Prove that you're the
Pope."He thought for a while and proclaimed, "I am one. The Pope is one.
Therefore, the Pope and I are one."
What is "pi"?
Mathematician: Pi is thenumber expressing the relationship between the
circumference of a circle and its diameter.
Physicist: Pi is 3.1415927plus or minus 0.000000005
Engineer: Pi is about 3.
Ya' hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch the rays and
became a tangent ?
My geometry teacher was sometimes acute, and sometimes obtuse, but always,
he was right.
A biologist, a statistician, a mathematician and a computer scientist are
on a photo-safari in africa. They drive out on the savannah in their jeep,
stop and scout the horizon with their binoculars.
The biologist: "Look! There's a herd of zebras! And there, in the
middle: A white zebra! It's fantastic! There are white zebras! We'll be
The statistician: "It's not significant. We only know there's one white
The mathematician: "Actually, we only know there exists a zebra, which is
white on one side."
The computer scientist: "Oh, no! A special case!"
I saw the following scrawled on a math office blackboard in college:
1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1
Lumberjacks make good musicians because of their natural logarithms.
Pie are not square. Pie are round. Cornbread are square.
A physics joke:
"Energy equals milk chocolate square"
A doctor, a lawyer and a mathematician were discussing the relative merits
of having a wife or a mistress.
The lawyer says: "For sure a mistress is better. If you have a wife and
want a divorce, it causes all sorts of legal problems."
The doctor says: "It's better to have a wife because the sense of security
lowers your stress and is good for your health."
The mathematician says: "You're both wrong. It's best to have both so
that when the wife thinks you're with the mistress and the mistress thinks
you're with your wife --- you can do some mathematics."
Von Neumann and Nobert Weiner were both the subject of many dotty
professor stories. Von Neumann supposedly had the habit of simply writing
answers to homework assignments on the board (the method of solution being, of
course, obvious) when he was asked how to solve problems. One time one of his
students tried to get more helpful information by asking if there was another
way to solve the problem. Von Neumann looked blank for a moment, thought, and
then answered, "Yes."
Weiner was in fact very absent minded. The following story is told about
him: When they moved from Cambridge to Newton his wife, knowing that he would
be absolutely useless on the move, packed him off to MIT while she directed
the move. Since she was certain that he would forget that they had moved and
where they had moved to, she wrote down the new address on a piece of paper,
and gave it to him. Naturally, in the course of the day, an insight occurred
to him. He reached in his pocket, found a piece of paper on which he
furiously scribbled some notes, thought it over, decided there was a fallacy
in his idea, and threw the piece of paper away. At the end of the day he went
home (to the old address in Cambridge, of course). When he got there he
realized that they had moved, that he had no idea where they had moved to, and
that the piece of paper with the address was long gone. Fortunately
inspiration struck. There was a young girl on the street and he conceived the
idea of asking her where he had moved to, saying, "Excuse me, perhaps you know
me. I'm Norbert Weiner and we've just moved. Would you know where we've
moved to?" To which the young girl replied, "Yes daddy, mommy thought you
The capper to the story is that I asked his daughter (the girl in the
story) about the truth of the story, many years later. She said that it
wasn't quite true -- that he never forgot who his children were! The rest of
it, however, was pretty close to what actually happened...
A bunch of Polish scientists decided to flee their repressive government
by hijacking an airliner and forcing the pilot to fly them to a western
country. They drove to the airport, forced their way on board a large
passenger jet, and found there was no pilot on board. Terrified, they
listened as the sirens got louder. Finally, one of the scientists suggested
that since he was an experimentalist, he would try to fly the aircraft.
He sat down at the controls and tried to figure them out. The sirens got
louder and louder. Armed men surrounded the jet. The would be pilot's
friends cried out, "Please, please take off now!!! Hurry!!!!!!" The
experimentalist calmly replied, "Have patience. I'm just a simple pole in a
Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions.
During a class of calculus my lecturer suddenly checked himself and stared
intently at the table in front of him for a while. Then he looked up at us
and explained that he thought he had brought six piles of papers with him, but
"no matter how he counted" there was only five on the table. Then he became
silent for a while again and then told the following story:
"When I was young in Poland I met the great mathematician Waclaw
Sierpinski. He was old already then and rather absent-minded. Once he had to
move to a new place for some reason. His wife wife didn't trust him very much,
so when they stood down on the street with all their things, she said:
"Now, you stand here and watch our ten trunks, while I go and get a
She left and left him there, eyes somewhat glazed and humming absently.
Some minutes later she returned, presumably having called for a taxi. Says
Mr. Sierpinski (possibly with a glint in his eye):
"I thought you said there were ten trunks, but I've only counted to
"No, they're TEN!"
"No, count them: 0, 1, 2, ..."
Philosopher: "Resolution of the continuum hypothesis will have profound
implications to all of science."
Physicist: "Not quite. Physics is well on its way without those
mythical `foundations'. Just give us serviceable mathematics."
Computer Scientist: "Who cares? Everything in this Universe seems to be
finite anyway. Besides, I'm too busy debugging my Pascal programs."
Mathematician: "Forget all that! Just make your formulae as aesthetically
pleasing as possible!"
Two male mathematiciens are in a bar.
The first one says to the second that the average person knows very little
about basic mathematics.The second one disagrees, and claims that most people can cope with a
reasonable amount of math.
The first mathematicien goes off to the washroom, and in his absence the
second calls over the waitress.
He tells her that in a few minutes, after his friend has returned, he will
call her over and ask her a question. All she has to do is answer one third x
She repeats `one thir -- dex cue'? He repeats `one third x cubed'.
Her: `one thir dex cuebd'? Yes, that's right, he says. So she agrees,
and goes off mumbling to herself, `one thir dex cuebd...'.
The first guy returns and the second proposes a bet to prove his point,
that most people do know something about basic math.
He says he will ask the blonde waitress an integral, and the first
laughingly agrees.The second man calls over the waitress and asks `what is the integral of x
squared?'The waitress says `one third x cubed' and while walking away, turns back
and says over her shoulder `plus a constant'!
The Method of Inversive Geometry: We place a spherical cage in the
desert, enter it, and lock it. We perform an inversion with respect to the
cage. The lion is then in the interior of the cage, and we are outside.
The Set Theoretic Method: We observe that the desert is a separable
space. It therefore contains an enumerable dense set of points, from which
can be extracted a sequence having the lion as limit. We then approach the
lion stealthily along this sequence, bearing with us suitable equipment.
A Topological Method: We observe that a lion has at least the
connectivity of the torus. We transport the desert into four-space. It is
then possible to carry out such a deformation that the lion can be returned to
three-space in a knotted condition. He is then helpless.
The Dirac Method: We observe that wild lions are, ipso facto, not
observable in the Sahara Desert. Consequently, if there are any lions in the
Sahara, they are tame. The capture of a tame lion may be left as an exercise
for the reader.
The Thermodynamical Method: We construct a semi-permeable membrane,
permeable to everything except lions, and sweep it across the desert.
The Schrodinger Method: At any given moment there is a positive
probability that there is a lion in the cage. Sit down and wait.
MATHEMATICS PURITY TEST
Count the number of yes's, subtract from 60, and divide by 0.6.
- Have you ever been excited about math?
- Had an exciting dream about math?
- Made a mathematical calculation?
- Manipulated the numerator of an equation?
- Manipulated the denominator of an equation?
- On your first problem set?
- Worked on a problem set past 3:00 a.m.?
- Worked on a problem set all night?
- Had a hard problem?
- Worked on a problem continuously for more than 30 minutes?
- Worked on a problem continuously for more than four hours?
- Done more than one problem set on the same night (i.e. both started and
- Done more than three problem sets on the same night?
- Taken a math course for a full year?
- Taken two different math courses at the same time?
- Done at least one problem set a week for more than four months?
- Done at least one problem set a night for more than one month (weekends
- Done a problem set alone?
- Done a problem set in a group of three or more?
- Done a problem set in a group of 15 or more?
- Was it mixed company?
- Have you ever inadvertently walked in upon people doing a problem set?
- And joined in afterwards?
- Have you ever used food doing a problem set?
- Did you eat it all?
- Have you ever had a domesticated pet or animal walk over you while you
were doing a problem set?
- Done a problem set in a public place where you might be discovered?
- Been discovered while doing a problem set?
- Have you ever applied your math to a hard science?
- Applied your math to a soft science?
- Done an integration by parts?
- Done two integration by parts in a single problem?
- Bounded the domain and range of your function?
- Used the domination test for improper integrals?
- Done Newton's Method?
- Done the Method of Frobenius?
- Used the Sandwich Theorem?
- Used the Mean Value Theorem?
- Used a Gaussian surface?
- Used a foreign object on a math problem (eg: calculator)?
- Used a program to improve your mathematical technique (eg: MACSYMA)?
- Not used brackets when you should have?
- Integrated a function over its full period?
- Done a calculation in three-dimensional space?
- Done a calculation in n-dimensional space?
- Done a change of bases?
- Done a change of bases specifically in order to magnify your vector?
- Worked through four complete bases in a single night (eg: using the
- Inserted a number into an equation?
- Calculated the residue of a pole?
- Scored perfectly on a math test?
- Swallowed everything your professor gave you?
- Used explicit notation in your problem set?
- Puposefully omitted important steps in your problem set?
- Padded your own problem set?
- Been blown away on a test?
- Blown away your professor on a test?
- Have you ever multiplied 23 by 3?
- Have you ever bounded your Bessel function so that the membrane did not
shoot to infinity?
- Have you ever understood the following quote: "The relationship between
Z^0 to C_0, B_0, and H_0 is an example of a general principle which we have
encountered: the kernel of the adjoint of a linear transformation is both the
annihilator space of the image of the transformation and also the dual space
of the quotient of the space of which the image is a subspace by the image
subspace." (Shlomo & Bamberg's _A "Course" in Mathematics for Students of
Q. How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A. One, who gives it to six Californians, thereby reducing it to the
-- from a button I bought at Nancy Lebowitz's table at Boskone
There are three kinds of mathematicians: those who can count and those