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Another example: Q. What's purple and commutes ? A. An Abelian grape (a pun on the term Abelian group). A more sophisticated example: Person 1: What's the integral of 1/cabin? Person 2: A natural log cabin. Person 1: No, a houseboat – you forgot to add the c! The first part of this joke relies on the fact that the primitive (formed when finding the antiderivative) of the function 1/x is ln(x). The second part is then based on the fact that the antiderivative is actually a class of functions, requiring the inclusion of a constant of integration, usually denoted as C — something which many calculus students forget. Thus, the indefinite integral of 1/cabin is "ln(cabin) + c", or "A natural log cabin plus the sea", ie. "A houseboat". There are only 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, and those who don't. This joke relies on the fact that mathematical expressions, just as expressions in natural languages, may have multiple meanings. When multiple meanings are available, puns are possible. In this case a pun is made using the expression 10. For non-mathematicians or non-computer programmers 10 almost always refers to the number ten. However, in binary, the expression 10 means the number two. Thus the joke says that there are only two kinds of people, those who understand binary, and those who don't. However, those who do not understand binary will certainly not get the joke. This joke is only feasible in written form; when speaking a binary number aloud, "10" would be phrased as "one zero" or simply "two", rather than "ten". There are only 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, those who don't, and those who understand Gray code. In Gray code, "10" would be phrased as "one zero" or simply "three", rather than "ten", adding another layer of subtlety to the joke. A self-deprecating version is as follows: There are only 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, and those who get laid. The following joke refers to the original joke: There are only 10 types of people in the world — those who understand ternary, those who don't, and those who mistake it for binary.
(This one is also often attributed to computer scientists: Real programmers confuse Halloween and Christmas — because dec(25)=oct(31). thus equating "oct" in October and octal. anyone trying to give the typical answer will realize its impossibility. engineers. an Irishman and a Scotsman…" or the like.e.  Stereotypes of mathematicians Some jokes are based on stereotypes of mathematicians tending to think in complicated. The answer is sometimes also given as "To get to the same side". or the "soft" sciences in a form similar to those which begin "An Englishman. Many of these jokes compare mathematicians to other professions. A mathematical variation follows as: "Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?" This joke relies on the audience knowing that since the Möbius Strip is a surface with only one "side" (i. This implies. one "edge").. and "dec" in December and decimal. "How did you like it?" the mathematician wants to know after the talk. Another pun using different radices. and those who can't. abstract terms. DEAD refers to a hexadecimal number (57005 base 10). The humor lies in the fact that Halloween occurs on October 31 and Christmas occurs on December 25. asks: Why do mathematicians think Halloween and Christmas are the same? Because 31 Oct = 25 Dec. while the mathematician does something less useful such as making the necessary calculation but not performing the implied action." the engineer confesses.A similar joke may be played by asking the question: If only DEAD people understand hexadecimal. with the same rationale. The joke generally shows the other scientist doing something practical. "How can you develop any intuition for thirteen-dimensional space?" "Well. it's not even difficult. that the person making the statement is the latter. not the state of being no longer alive. Almost everyone knows the trite line: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" "To get to the other side". Examples: A mathematician and his best friend. causing them to lose touch with the "real world". "My head's spinning. attend a public lecture on geometry in thirteen-dimensional space. an engineer. All I do is visualize the situation in n-dimensional space and then set n = 13. sometimes attributed to computer scientists. of course.) Another joke involving counting is: There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count. how many people understand hexadecimal? In this case. typically physicists." .
The physicist says. The astronomer looks out of the window. a biologist and a physicist are sitting in a street café watching people entering and leaving the house on the other side of the street. there is at least one field. However. In striving not to miss such connections. Pure mathematicians are mainly concerned with the properties of the abstract systems under study. promptly sets his fence in the form of a circle." says the mathematician." "No. resulting in new insights as old problems are cast in new light. a physicist and a mathematician are on a train in Scotland. "In Scotland. After a while they notice three people leaving the house." The mathematician says.A mathematician. The chemist starts concocting a means of generating carbon dioxide in order to create a makeshift extinguisher but before he can do so the engineer arrives. sees a black sheep standing in a field. which unfortunately are not always as illuminating as one could wish for: A sociologist. and remarks. containing at least one sheep. preferring instead to state only that which can be logically deduced from the given information – even if some form of generalization seems plausible: An astronomer. He admits he saw it." The mathematician rolls his eyes at his companions' muddled thinking and says. One evening they are downstairs in the bar. The chemist goes next. The physicist. . "They must have reproduced. The mathematician goes to bed first. an engineer and a chemist are at a conference. dumps the water on the fire and puts it out. There is a bucket of water nearby. First they see two people entering the house. realizing he can fence off a greater amount of land with the same amount of fencing. and smiles. a physicist and a mathematician are all given equal amounts of fencing." An example of a joke relying on mathematicians' propensity for not taking the implied action is as follows: A mathematician. They ask him why he didn't put it out. They are staying in adjoining rooms." A variant has the punchline "No. "The measurement wasn't accurate." The biologist says. "How odd. The sociologist pauses for a moment and decides to enclose a square area with his fence. mathematicians often see problems in novel (but theoretically valid) ways. The chemist notices that in the corridor outside their rooms a rubbish bin is ablaze." Another variant with cows was featured in the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. "all we can say is that there is at least half of a black sheep in Scotland. "I'd like to see you beat that!" he says to the mathematician. Scottish sheep are black." Mathematicians are also shown as averse to making sweeping generalizations from a small amount of data. followed a minute or two later by the engineer. "Only some Scottish sheep are black. not their actual applications. such applications are sometimes found in mathematics itself. no. He replies contemptuously "there was a fire and a bucket of water: a solution obviously existed. no!" says the physicist. Time passes. "If one more person enters the house then it will be empty. The next morning the chemist and engineer tell the mathematician about the fire. and are asked to enclose the greatest area. at least one side of which appears black from here.
it misses a foot too high. The first statistician aims and takes his shot. He tells her that in a few minutes. and the first laughingly agrees. after his friend has returned. "One third x cubed. she turns back and says. and wraps it around himself."  Non-mathematician's math The next category of jokes comprises those that exploit common misunderstandings of mathematics. Their dog chases out a duck and it starts to fly. Two mathematicians are in a bar. when I started working here. it misses a foot too low. I asked a scientist the exact same question. "How can you know it that well?" she asked. "You must be a mathematician. two months and eighteen days ago. can you tell us where we're at?" After a few moments the jogger responds. and he said it was sixty-five million years old – and that was three years. and in his absence the second calls over the waitress. in response. and claims that most people can cope with a reasonable amount of math. "yeah. They yell to a jogger." In the above example. proclaiming. The second one disagrees. he will call her over and ask her a question. The second man calls over the waitress and asks." The jogger. it took you far too long to come up with your answer." She agrees. two months and eighteen days old. it was 100% correct." The engineer says. and so it is dead. while walking away. "Well. and asked a nearby museum employee how old it was. "I define my location to be outside of the fence!" A small set of jokes involves only mathematicians. "We got him!" The humor there is derived from the fact that the average of the shots hits the duck. "That skeleton's sixty-five million and three years. The second statistician aims and takes his shot. Examples: A visitor to the Royal Tyrell Museum was admiring a Tyrannosaurus fossil. and goes off mumbling to herself. how did you know I was a mathematician?" "Because. the humor is that the employee fails to understand the scientist's implication of the uncertainty in the age of the fossil. The first one says to the second that the average person knows very little about basic math. He says he will ask the blonde waitress an integral." Then. or the expectation that most people have only a basic mathematical education. "Hey. The third statistician says. if any. The first mathematician goes off to the washroom. and it was completely useless. such as the following involving statisticians: Three statisticians go duck hunting.The mathematician. "One third x cubed. An engineer and a physicist are in a hot-air balloon. "Plus a constant!" . "What is the integral of x squared?" The waitress says. shocked. After a few hours they lose track of where they are and descend to get directions. The first guy returns and the second proposes a bet to prove his point. all she has to do is answer." the employee replied. responds. takes a very small piece of his own fencing. "You're in a hot-air balloon.
besides some basic arithmetic. such as the proof that Women are evil: Women are the product of time and money: Time is money: So women are money squared: Money is the root of all evil: So women are evil: Another set of jokes relate to the absence of mathematical reasoning. a t-shirt from the University of Chicago reads: . turns out to know enough calculus to correct the mathematician's omission. Conclusion: Therefore. the limit as x goes to 8 is a sideways 8 or the infinity sign.) (That is.In the above example. Many of these are based on a combination of well-known quotes and basic logical constructs such as syllogisms: Example: Premise I: Knowledge is power.  Mathematical rebuses A mathematical formalism is used to spell out words and phrases in the form of a rebus. the humor is that the waitress. knowledge corrupts.  Mock mathematical reasoning A set of equivocal jokes applies mathematical reasoning to situations where it is not entirely valid. the "n" in "sin" cancels with the "n" in the denominator. or misinterpretation of conventional notation: Examples: (That is. There are also a number of joke proofs.  Mock mathematics A form of mathematical humor comes from using mathematical tools (both abstract symbols and physical objects such as calculators) in various ways which transgress their intended ambit. chosen as an example of someone not expected to know much mathematics beyond adding up the bill.) See also Anomalous cancellation. in the same way that the limit as x goes to three is a sideways 3 or the Greek letter omega. For example. often of a crude nature. These constructions are generally devoid of any "real" mathematics. giving "six" and 1 respectively. Premise II: Power corrupts.
 Calculator spelling Tangential to mathematics is calculator spelling: words and phrases formed by entering a number and turning the calculator upside down. A favorite word to spell is hello. matches the form of a limerick. Often the words are accompanied by stories involving numbers that lead to the "final solution". which is 0. Dropping the 0 and changing the number to an integer results in another child's favorite. when read aloud.  Math limericks A Math Limerick is an expression which. Another favorite is the spelling of 'I sell boobs' on the calculator which is the number 5800877351.7734. Boas. it reads "The limit of sex as U (you) approaches "U of C" is zero". . Jr The Complexity of Songs Tom Lehrer's satirical songs "Lobachevsky" and "New Math". these are usually spread by schoolchildren.1134 or 0. and a score Plus three times the square root of four Divided by seven Plus five times eleven Is nine squared and not a bit more  See also Funny numbers Ralph P. a gross. attributed to Leigh Mercer: This is read as follows A dozen. The following is an example which closely matches the form of a limerick: which reads as follows: The integral t-squared dt From one to the cube root of three Times the cosine Of three pi over nine Equals log of the cube root of e Another. implying that the average U of C student is unlikely to engage in sexual relations. Due to their crudeness and relative simplicity (requiring only basic calculator skills to achieve).Bearing in mind that the integral symbol is derived from the letter "S".
Proof by intimidation  Notes ^ Eric W.  External links Mathematical Humor — From Mathworld A Sampling of Mathematical Folk Humor Mathematical Jokes Retrieved from "http://en. "Foolproof: A Sampling of Mathematical Folk Humor" (PDF).wikipedia. ^ Math Mayhem  Further reading Paul Renteln and Alan Dundes (2004-12-08). Weisstein.org/wiki/Mathematical_joke" . Notices of the AMS 52 (1). Abelian Group at MathWorld.
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