Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Mrs. Johnson the elementary school math teacher was having children do problems on the blackboard that day.
“Who would like to do the first problem, addition?”
No one raised their hand. She called on Tommy, and with some help he finally got it right.
“Who would like to do the second problem, subtraction?”
Students hid their faces. She called on Mark, who got the problem but there was some suspicion his girlfriend Lisa whispered it to him.
“Who would like to do the third problem, division?”
Now a low collective groan could be heard as everyone looked at nothing in particular. The teacher called on Suzy, who got it right (she has been known to hold back sometimes in front of her friends).
“Who would like to do the last problem, multiplication?”
Tim’s hand shot up, surprising everyone in the room. Mrs. Johnson finally gained her composure in the stunned silence. “Why the enthusiasm, Tim?”
“‘Cause God said to go fourth and multiply!”
Arithmetic. “My life is all arithmetic,” the young businesswoman explains. “I try to add to my income, subtract from my weight, divide my time, and avoid multiplying.”
Boy’s Life I. Ralph: Dad, will you do my math for me tonight?
Dad: No, son, it wouldn’t be right.
Ralph: Well, you could try.
From Boy’s Life magazine, May 1973.
Boy’s Life II. Teacher: Ralph, if your father had 10 dollars and you asked him for six dollars, how many dollars would your father have left?
Teacher: You do not know your math.
Ralph: You do not know my father.
Catholic arithmetic. A father is very much concerned about his young son Billy’s bad grades in math. In desperation, he decides to register Billy at a catholic school. After his first term there, Billy brings home his report card. And, lo and behold, he’s getting A’s in math.
The father is, of course, pleased, but wants to know: “Why are your math grades suddenly so good?”
Billy’s face goes a little white, and he replies, “when I walked into the classroom the first day, and I saw that guy on the wall nailed to a plus sign, I knew one thing: this place means business!”
Convergence. Two mathematicians are looking at an infinite sum scrawled on a blackboard. After staring at it for a while, they both agree that the series does, in fact, coverage. Staring at it a little longer, the first one says, “Do you realize that the series still converges even when all the terms are made positive?”
The second asks, “Are you sure about that?”
Counterexamples. At a large mathematical conference, a young mathematician is demonstrating his first new result to a gaggle of respected mathematicians.
When he concludes its proof, someone in the audience interrupts him: “That proof must be wrong — I have two counterexamples to your theorem.”
The young mathematician shrugs. “That’s okay. I have three other proofs of it.”
Holy numbers. Young Irving grew up a devout believer in the biblical prophecies of his parents’ faith, and owing to a natural bent in mathematics, was particularly intrigued by the numerical aspects of those prophecies. At the age of seven he surprised his father by pointing out that there was
3 persons in the Trinity,
5 books of Moses,
6 days of creation, and
7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“What about 8?” his father asked.
“Well, 8 is the holiest of them all!” the boy replied. “The other numbers with holes are 0, 6, and 9, and sometimes 4, but 8 has two holes, and therefore is the holiest.”
This joke is told by Martin Gardner. Legend has it that it refers to Irving Joshua Bush, later known as Dr. Matrix.
Mountaineering. A party of mathematicians was climbing in the Alps. After several hours they became hopelessly lost. One of them studied the map for some time, turning it up and down, sighting on distant landmarks, consulting his compass, and finally the sun. After thinking for a moment, he said, “Okay, see that big mountain over there?”
“Yes!” answered the others eagerly.
“Well, according to the map, we’re standing on top of it.”
[_____] walks into a bar
Animal bar. A mathematican walks into a bar accompanied by a dog and a cow. The bartender says, “Hey, no animals are allowed in here.”
The mathematician replies, “These are very special animals.”
“They’re knot theorists.”
The bartender raises his eyebrows and says, “I’ve met a number of knot theorists who I thought were animals, but never an animal that was a knot theorist.”
“Well, I’ll prove it to you. Ask them them anything you like.”
So the bartender asks the dog, “Name a knot invariant.”
“Arf! Arf!” barks the dog.
The bartender scowls and turns to the cow asking, “Name a topological invariant.”
“Mu! Mu!” says the cow.
At this point the bartender turns to the mathematican and says, “Very funny.” With that, he throws the three out of the bar.
Outside, sitting on the curb, the dog turns to the mathematican and asks, “Do you think I should have said the Jones polynomial instead?”
FYI, the dog is, of course, referring to the Cahit Arf-invariant of knot theory, while the cow is referring to the Milnor mu-invariant of algebraic topology.
Waitress’ revenge. Two mathematicians walk into 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 mathematician 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.”
“One thir dex cuebd?”
“Yes, that’s right”, he says.
So she agrees, and goes off mumbling to herself, “one thir dex cuebd… one thir dex cuebd… 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 adds with a wink “…plus a constant.”
Waitress’ revenge II.
Two mathematicians walk into 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 second mathematician goes off to the washroom, and in his absence the first 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 “‘a‘ squared plus ‘b‘ squared.”
She repeats: “A square plus a bee square?”
He repeats “a squared plus b squared.”
“Ay squared plus bee squared?”
“Yes, that’s right”, he says.
So she agrees, and goes off mumbling to herself, “Ay squared plus bee squared… Ay squared plus bee squared… Ay squared plus bee squared…”
The second guy returns and the first proposes a bet to prove his point, that most people do know something about basic math. He says he will ask the blonde waitress a simple algebra question, and the second happily agrees.
The first man calls over the waitress and asks “What is (a+b)2?”
The waitress says “Ay squared plus bee squared” and while walking away, turns back and adds with a wink “…assuming a and b are anticommutative.”
More mathematicians walk into bars…
Rene Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender approaches him and askes, “Ah, good evening Monsieur Descartes! Shall I serve you the usual drink?” Descartes replies “I think not,” and promptly vanishes.
Three mathematicians walk into a bar. You’d think the third one would have ducked.
An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first orders a beer. The second orders half a beer. The third orders a quarter of a beer. Before the next one can order, the bartender says, “You’re all assholes,” and pours two beers.
A dyslexic mathematician walks into a bra.
A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer walk into a bar. The barman looks at the three and says, “Is this some kind of joke?”
A sphere walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, “I’m sorry, but we don’t serve spheres here.” The disgruntled sphere walks outside, but then gets an idea and performs Dahn surgery upon himself. He walks into the bar, and the bartender, who does not recognize him but thinks he looks familiar (or at least locally similar) and asks, “Aren’t you that sphere that just came in here?” “No,” says the sphere, “I’m a frayed knot.”
A definite integral walks and orders 10 shots of whiskey. “You sure about that, buddy?” “Yeah, I know my limits.”
A bar walks into a commutative algebraist.
sin(x) walks into a bar and asks for drink. The barman declines: “We don’t cater for functions.”
Two polynomials walk into a bar. The bartender, a derivative, asks them “Can I take you order?” The polynomials run out screaming “Help! The bartender threatened to kill me!”
Four fonts walk into a bar. The barman says “Hey you, get outta here! We don’t want your type in here.”
An initial condition walks into a bar. The barman says “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything.”
Particle physics variations
Two atoms walk out of a bar. “Oh dear, I’ve left my electrons back in the bar.” “Are you sure?” “I’m positive.”
A neutron walks into a bar. “How much for a beer?” “For you? No charge.”
Two alpha particles and a gamma ray walk into a bar… magnet.