From: ed@csd4.milw.wisc.edu (Ed bunny Ahrenhoerster)
Subject: Math joke collection
Keywords: LONG Long long
Message-ID: <6723@uwmcsd1.UUCP>
Date: 4 Sep 88 00:29:18 GMT
Organization: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
I have had a number of requests for my collection of math jokes,
so I will just post it here. These were taken off the net a year
or two ago (from sci.math), so these are 100% guaranteed repeats.
(hey at least i am honest :-) Included is the name of whoever
posted these originally.
-Ed
******************************************************************************
>From uwmcsd1!ig!agate!helios.ee.lbl.gov!nosc!cod!jscosta Wed Jun 29 02:01:57
CDT 1988
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Q. What does a mathematician do when he's constipated?
A. He works it out with a pencil.
Joseph Costa, NOSC
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Three employees of NOSC (an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician) are
staying in a hotel while attending a technical seminar. The engineer wakes
up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he
fills a trashcan from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back
to bed. Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door
and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and
after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, trajectory,
etc. extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy
needed. Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes to the
hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. He thinks for a moment and then
exclaims, "Ah, a solution exists!" and then goes back to bed.
Michael Plapp, NOSC
------------------------------------------------------------------------
"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems"
-- P. Erdos
Jim Lewis, UC-Berkeley
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Three standard Peter Lax jokes (heard in his lectures) :
1. What's the contour integral around Western Europe?
Answer: Zero, because all the Poles are in Eastern Europe!
Addendum: Actually, there ARE some Poles in Western Europe, but
they are removable!
2. An English mathematician (I forgot who) was asked by his very religious
colleague:
Do you believe in one God?
Answer: Yes, up to isomorphism!
3. What is a compact city?
It's a city that can be guarded by finitely many near-sighted
policemen!
Abdolreza Tahvildarzadeh, NYU
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Q: What's purple and commutes?
A: An abelian grape.
Q: What's yellow, and equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?
A: Zorn's Lemon.
James Currie
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Q: Why did the mathematician name his dog "Cauchy"?
A: Because he left a residue at every pole.
Q: Why is it that the more accuracy you demand from an interpolation
function, the more expensive it becomes to compute?
A: That's the Law of Spline Demand.
Steve Friedl, V-Systems, Inc.
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"Algebraic symbols are used when you do not know what you are talking about."
Philippe Schnoebelen
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Moebius always does it on the same side.
Heisenberg might have slept here.
Aaron Avery, University of Wisconsin
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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 opener.
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
escaped.
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...
(name unknown), Reed College, Portland, OR
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Here's a limerick I picked up off the net a few years back - looks better
on paper.
\/3
/
| 2 3 x 3.14 3_
| z dz x cos( ----------) = ln (\/e )
| 9
/
1
Which, of course, translates to:
Integral z-squared dz
from 1 to the square root of 3
times the cosine
of three pi over 9
equals log of the cube root of 'e'.
And it's correct, too.
Doug Walker, SAS Institute
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There were two men trying to decide what to do for a living. They went to
see a counselor, and he decided that they had good problem solving skills.
He tried a test to narrow the area of specialty. He put each man in a room
with a stove, a table, and a pot of water on the table. He said "Boil the
water". Both men moved the pot from the table to the stove and turned on the
burner to boil the water. Next, he put them into a room with a stove, a
table,
and a pot of water on the floor. Again, he said "Boil the water". The first
man put the pot on the stove and turned on the burner. The counselor told him
to be an Engineer, because he could solve each problem individually. The
second man moved the pot from the floor to the table, and then moved the
pot from the table to the stove and turned on the burner. The counselor
told him to be a mathematician because he reduced the problem to a previously
solved problem.
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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."
Donald Chinn, UC-Berkeley
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THE STORY OF BABEL:
In the beginning there was only one kind of Mathematician, created by the
Great Mathamatical Spirit form the Book: the Topologist. And they grew to
large
numbers and prospered.
One day they looked up in the heavens and desired to reach up as far as
the
eye could see. So they set out in building a Mathematical edifice that was to
reach up as far as "up" went. Further and further up they went ... until one
night the edifice collapsed under the weight of paradox.
The following morning saw only rubble where there once was a huge
structure
reaching to the heavens. One by one, the Mathematicians climbed out from
under
the rubble. It was a miracle that nobody was killed; but when they began to
speak to one another, SUPRISE of all suprises! they could not understand each
other. They all spoke different languages. They all fought amongst
themselves
and each went about their own way. To this day the Topologists remain the
original Mathematicians.
- adapted from an American Indian legend
of the Mound Of Babel
Mark William Hopkins, U. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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The ark lands after The Flood. Noah lets all the animals out. Says,
"Go and multiply." Several months pass. Noah decides to check up on the
animals. All are doing fine except a pair of snakes. "What's the problem?"
says Noah. "Cut down some trees and let us live there", say the snakes.
Noah follows their advice. Several more weeks pass. Noah checks on the
snakes again. Lots of little snakes, everybody is happy. Noah asks,
"Want to tell me how the trees helped?" "Certainly", say the snakes.
"We're adders, and we need logs to multiply."
Rolan Christofferson, U.Colorado, Boulder
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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.
David Harr, Occidental College
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Lemma: All horses are the same color.
Proof (by induction):
Case n=1: In a set with only one horse, it is obvious that all horses
in that set are the same color.
Case n=k: Suppose you have a set of k+1 horses. Pull one of these
horses out of the set, so that you have k horses. Suppose that all of
these horses are the same color. Now put back the horse that you took
out, and pull out a different one. Suppose that all of the k horses
now in the set are the same color. Then the set of k+1 horses are all
the same color. We have k true => k+1 true; therefore all horses are
the same color.
Theorem: All horses have an infinite number of legs.
Proof (by intimidation):
Everyone would agree that all horses have an even number of legs. It
is also well-known that horses have forelegs in front and two legs in
back. 4 + 2 = 6 legs, which is certainly an odd number of legs for a
horse to have! Now the only number that is both even and odd is infinity;
therefore all horses have an infinite number of legs.
However, suppose that there is a horse somewhere that does not have an
infinite number of legs. Well, that would be a horse of a different
color; and by the Lemma, it doesn't exist.
QED
Jerry Weldon, Livermore Labs
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Several students were asked the following problem:
Prove that all odd integers are prime.
Well, the first student to try to do this was a math student. Hey
says "hmmm... Well, 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, and by
induction, we have that all the odd integers are prime."
Of course, there are some jeers from some of his friends. The
physics student then said, "I'm not sure of the validity of your proof,
but I think I'll try to prove it by experiment." He continues, "Well, 1
is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ... uh, 9 is an
experimental error, 11 is prime, 13 is prime... Well, it seems that
you're right."
The third student to try it was the engineering student, who
responded, "Well, actually, I'm not sure of your answer either. Let's
see... 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ..., 9 is
..., well if you approximate, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, 13 is prime...
Well, it does seem right."
Not to be outdone, the computer science student comes along
and says "Well, you two sort've got the right idea, but you'd end up
taking too long doing it. I've just whipped up a program to REALLY go
and prove it..." He goes over to his terminal and runs his program.
Reading the output on the screen he says, "1 is prime, 1 is prime, 1
is prime, 1 is prime...."
------------
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.
------------
And now, for some really bad picture jokes (that I heard at Cal Poly SLO) :
Q: What's the title of this picture ?
.. .. ____ .. ..
\\===/======\\==
|| | | ||
|| |____| ||
|| ( ) ||
|| \____/ ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| (\ ||
|| ) ) ||
|| //||\\ ||
A: Hypotenuse
-------
Q: What quantity is represented by this ?
/\ /\ /\
/ \ / \ / \
/ \ / \ / \
/ \ / \ / \
/ \ / \ / \
/______\ /______\ /______\
|| || ||
|| || ||
A: 9, tree + tree + tree
Q: A dust storm blows through, now how much do you have ?
A: 99, dirty tree + dirty tree + dirty tree
Q: Some birds go flying by and leave their droppings,
one per tree, how many is that ?
A: 100, dirty tree and a turd + dirty tree and a turd
+ dirty tree and a turd
Naoto Kimura, Cal State-Northridge
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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 zebra's ! We'll be famous !"
The statistician : "It's not significant. We only know there's one
white zebra."
The mathematician : "Actually, we only know there exists a zebra,
which is white on one side."
The computer scientist : "Oh, no! A special case!"
Niels Ull Jacobsen, U. of Copenhagen
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I saw the following scrawled on a math office blackboard in college:
1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1
Rob Gardner, HP Ft. Collins, CO
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lim ----
8-->9 \/ 8 = 3
Donald Chinn, UC-Berkeley
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lim 3 = 8
w->oo
(It is more obvious when handwritten...)
Jorge Stolfi, DEC Systems Research Center, Palo Alto, CA
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Asked how his pet parrot died, the mathmatican answered
"Polynomial. polygon."
---
Lumberjacks make good musicians because of their natural
logarithms.
---
Pie are not square. Pie are round. Cornbread are square.
---
"The integral of e to the x is equal to f of the quantity
u to the n."
/ x n
| e = f(u )
/
---
A physics joke:
"Energy equals milk chocolate square"
Naoto Kimura, Cal State-Northridge
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Russell to Whitehead: "My Godel is killing me!"
Dennis Healy, Dartmouth
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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.
Bruce Bukiet, Los Alamos National Lab
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Statisticians probably do it
Algebraists do it in groups.
Al Sethuraman, Calma Company, San Diego
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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 would forget."
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...
Richard Harter, Computer Corp. of America, Cambridge, MA
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C programmers do it with long pointers.
(Logicians do it) or [not (logicians do it)].
Scott Horne
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Theorem: a cat has nine tails.
Proof:
No cat has eight tails. A cat has one tail more than no cat. Therefore,
a cat has nine tails.
Arndt Jonasson
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The USDA once wanted to make cows produce milk faster, to improve the dairy
industry.
So, they decided to consult the foremost biologists and
recombinant DNA technicians to build them a better cow.
They assembled this team of great scientists, and gave them
unlimited funding. They requested rare chemicals, weird
bacteria, tons of quarantine equipment, there was a
God-awful typhus epidemic they started by accident,
and, 2 years later, they came back with the "new, improved cow."
It had a milk production improvement of 2% over the
original.
They then tried with the greatest Nobel Prize winning chemists
around. They worked for six months, and, after requisitioning
tons of chemical equipment, and poisoning half the small town
in Colorado where they were working with a toxic cloud from
one of their experiments, they got a 5% improvement in milk output.
The physicists tried for a year, and, after ten thousand cows were
subjected to radiation therapy, they got a 1% improvement in output.
Finally, in desperation, they turned to the mathematicians. The
foremost mathematician of his time offered to help them with the problem.
Upon hearing the problem, he told the delegation that they could come back
in the morning and he would have solved the problem. In the morning,
they came back, and he handed them a piece of paper with the
computations for the new, 300% improved milk cow.
The plans began:
"A Proof of the Attainability of Increased Milk Output from Bovines:
Consider a spherical cow......"
Chet Murthy, Cornell
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Theorem : All positive integers are equal.
Proof : Sufficient to show that for any two positive integers, A and B,
A = B. Further, it is sufficient to show that for all N > 0, if A
and B (positive integers) satisfy (MAX(A, B) = N) then A = B.
Proceed by induction.
If N = 1, then A and B, being positive integers, must both be 1.
So A = B.
Assume that the theorem is true for some value k. Take A and B
with MAX(A, B) = k+1. Then MAX((A-1), (B-1)) = k. And hence
(A-1) = (B-1). Consequently, A = B.
Keith Goldfarb
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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 complex plane."
Lyle Levine, Washington University, St. Louis
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Hiawatha Designs an Experiment
Hiawatha, mighty hunter,
He could shoot ten arrows upward,
Shoot them with such strength and swiftness
That the last had left the bow-string
Ere the first to earth descended.
This was commonly regarded
As a feat of skill and cunning.
Several sarcastic spirits
Pointed out to him, however,
That it might be much more useful
If he sometimes hit the target.
"Why not shoot a little straighter
And employ a smaller sample?"
Hiawatha, who at college
Majored in applied statistics,
Consequently felt entitled
To instruct his fellow man
In any subject whatsoever,
Waxed exceedingly indignant,
Talked about the law of errors,
Talked about truncated normals,
Talked of loss of information,
Talked about his lack of bias,
Pointed out that (in the long run)
Independent observations,
Even though they missed the target,
Had an average point of impact
Very near the spot he aimed at,
With the possible exception
of a set of measure zero.
"This," they said, "was rather doubtful;
Anyway it didn't matter.
What resulted in the long run:
Either he must hit the target
Much more often than at present,
Or himself would have to pay for
All the arrows he had wasted."
Hiawatha, in a temper,
Quoted parts of R. A. Fisher,
Quoted Yates and quoted Finney,
Quoted reams of Oscar Kempthorne,
Quoted Anderson and Bancroft
(practically in extenso)
Trying to impress upon them
That what actually mattered
Was to estimate the error.
Several of them admitted:
"Such a thing might have its uses;
Still," they said, "he would do better
If he shot a little straighter."
Hiawatha, to convince them,
Organized a shooting contest.
Laid out in the proper manner
Of designs experimental
Recommended in the textbooks,
Mainly used for tasting tea
(but sometimes used in other cases)
Used factorial arrangements
And the theory of Galois,
Got a nicely balanced layout
And successfully confounded
Second order interactions.
All the other tribal marksmen,
Ignorant benighted creatures
Of experimental setups,
Used their time of preparation
Putting in a lot of practice
Merely shooting at the target.
Thus it happened in the contest
That their scores were most impressive
With one solitary exception.
This, I hate to have to say it,
Was the score of Hiawatha,
Who as usual shot his arrows,
Shot them with great strength and swiftness,
Managing to be unbiased,
Not however with a salvo
Managing to hit the target.
"There!" they said to Hiawatha,
"That is what we all expected."
Hiawatha, nothing daunted,
Called for pen and called for paper.
But analysis of variance
Finally produced the figures
Showing beyond all peradventure,
Everybody else was biased.
And the variance components
Did not differ from each other's,
Or from Hiawatha's.
(This last point it might be mentioned,
Would have been much more convincing
If he hadn't been compelled to
Estimate his own components
>From experimental plots on
Which the values all were missing.)
Still they couldn't understand it,
So they couldn't raise objections.
(Which is what so often happens
with analysis of variance.)
All the same his fellow tribesmen,
Ignorant benighted heathens,
Took away his bow and arrows,
Said that though my Hiawatha
Was a brilliant statistician,
He was useless as a bowman.
As for variance components
Several of the more outspoken
Make primeval observations
Hurtful of the finer feelings
Even of the statistician.
In a corner of the forest
Sits alone my Hiawatha
Permanently cogitating
On the normal law of errors.
Wondering in idle moments
If perhaps increased precision
Might perhaps be sometimes better
Even at the cost of bias,
If one could thereby now and then
Register upon a target.
W. E. Mientka, "Professor Leo Moser -- Reflections of a Visit"
American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 79, Number 6 (June-July, 1972)
---
Dave Seaman, Purdue
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An assemblage of the most gifted minds in the world were all posed the
following question:
"What is 2 * 2 ?"
The engineer whips out his slide rule (so it's old) and shuffles it back and
forth, and finally announces "3.99".
The physicist consults his technical references, sets up the problem on
his computer, and announces "it lies between 3.98 and 4.02".
The mathematician cogitates for a while, oblivious to the rest of the world,
then announces: "I don't what the answer is, but I can tell you, an answer
exists!".
Philosopher: "But what do you _mean_ by 2 * 2 ?"
Logician: "Please define 2 * 2 more precisely."
Accountant: Closes all the doors and windows, looks around carefully,
then asks "What do you _want_ the answer to be?"
Computer Hacker: Breaks into the NSA super-computer and gives the answer.
Dave Horsfall, Alcatel-STC Australia, North Sydney
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions.
John C. George, U.Illinois Urbana-Champaign
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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
taxi.
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 nine.
- No, they're TEN!
- No, count them: 0, 1, 2, ..."
Kai-Mikael, Royal Inst. of Technology, Stockholm, SWEDEN
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
What's nonorientable and lives in the sea?
Mobius Dick.
Jeff Dalton, U. of Edinburgh, UK
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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!"
Keitaro Yukawa, U. of Victoria, B.C, CANADA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Definition:
Jogging girl scout = Brownian motion.
Ilan Vardi, Stanford
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The limit as n goes to infinity of sin(x)/n is 6.
Proof: cancel the n in the numerator and denominator.
Micah Fogel, UC-Berkeley
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
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 cubed.
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'!
Lynn Marshall, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
-------------------------------------------------------------------------