6) Professional nerdery


What makes 100%? What does it mean to give more than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

To consider these questions mathematically, let use represent the alphabet numerically by identifying sequence of letters (A,B,C,…,X,Y,Z) with the percentages (1%,2%,3%,…,24%,25%,26%).


H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K = (8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11)% = 98%


K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E = (11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5)% = 96%.


A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E = (1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5)% = 100%


B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T = (2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20)% = 103%.

And just look how far ass kissing will take you:

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G = (1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7) = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that while hard work or knowledge will get you close to 100%, and attitude will get you there, it’s the bullshit and ass kissing that will put you over the top.


The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by university physicists. The new element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons and no electrons, and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 15 assistant neutrons, 70 vice-neutrons, and 161 assistant vice-neutrons. This gives it an atomic mass of 247. These 247 particles are held together by a force that involves a constant exchange of a special class of particles called morons.

Since it does not have electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium added to one reaction caused it to take over four days to complete. Without the administratium, the reaction ordinarily occurred in less than one second.

Administratium has a half-life of approximately three years, after which it does not normally decay but instead undergoes a complex nuclear process called “reorganization.” In this little understood process, assistant neutrons, vice-neutrons, and assistant vice-neutrons appear to exchange places. Early results indicate that the atomic mass actually increases after each “reorganization.”

Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government, large companies, health facilities and universities; and will often be found in the newest, best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reactions where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

BS Bingo

Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here is a way to change all of that!

How to play

The rules couldn’t be easier! Check off each block when you hear these words during a meeting, seminar, or phone call. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout “Bullshit!

Synergy Strategic Fit Gap Analysis Best Practice Bottom Line
Revisit Bandwidth Hardball Benchmark Core Business
Value-Added Proactive Win-Win Big Picture Fast Track
Result-Driven Empower Knowledge Base Total Quality Touch Base
Mindset Client-Focused Ball Park Game Plan Leverage


Testimonials from satisfied players:

“I had only been in the meeting for five minutes when I won.” –Jack W., Boston

“My attention span at seminars has improved dramatically.” –David D., Miami

“What a gas! Meetings will never be the same for me after my first win.” –Bill R., New York City

“The atmosphere was tense at the last process workshop as 32 of us listened intently for the elusive 5th.” –Mary G., Denver

“The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed ‘Bullshit!’ for the third time in two hours.” –Kathleen L., Atlanta

Department grading schemes

Department Of Statistics:
All grades are plotted along the normal bell curve.

Department Of Psychology:
Students are asked to blot ink in their exam books, close them and turn them in. The professor opens the books and assigns the first grade that comes to mind.

Department Of History:
All students get the same grade they got last year.

Department Of Religion:
Grade is determined by God.

Department Of Philosophy:
What is a grade?

English Department:
Your final exam will be scored by totaling the weight of all the books you read this semester:

  • 40+ pounds – A
  • 30 pounds – B
  • 20 pounds – C
  • 10 pounds – D
  • under 10 pounds – F

Law School:
Students are asked to defend their position of why they should receive an A.

Department Of Mathematics:
Grades are variable.

Department Of Physics:
Grades are relative. but…
All theoretical physics is really mathematics. See Above.

Department Of Chemistry:
All theoretical chemistry is really physics. See Above.

Department Of Biology:
All theoretical biology is really chemistry. See Above.

Department Of Logic:
If and only if the student is present for the final and the student has accumulated a passing grade then the student will receive an A else the student will not receive an A.

Department Of Marxist Studies:
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Therefore, everyone will now get the same grade!

Department Of Economics:
All of your grades, as a collection, will reach the level where your marginal product (MP) of labor for each individual grade is equal.

Department Of Operations & Logistics Management:
Grades will be posted at 12:00 Noon.
NOT 11:59. NOT 12:01. 12:00 NOON.

Department Of Computer Science:
Random number generator determines grade, but… YOUR grade is an object in a class of its own.

Department of Music:
Each student must figure out his grade by listening to the instructor play the corresponding note (+ and – would be sharp and flat respectively).

DIY proposal writing kit

We present a “writing kit” from which the reader himself may construct a large variety of penetrating statement, such as he is accustomed to draw from our pages. It is based on the SIMP (Simplified Modular Prose) system developed in the Honeywell computer’s jargon kit.

Take any four digit number — try 1969 for example — and compose your statement by selecting the corresponding phrases from the following tables (1 from Table A, 9 from Table B, etc…)

Table A

1. It has to be admitted that
2. As a consequence of inter-related factors,
3. Despite appearances to the contrary,
4. Until such time as fresh insight reverses the current trend,
5. Using the principle of cause and effect,
6. Presuming the validity of the present extrapolation,
7. Without wishing to open Pandora’s box,
8. It is now proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that
9. Worrying though the present situation may be,

Table B

1. willy-nilly determination to acheive success
2. construction of a high-energy accelerator
3. access to greater financial resources
4. pursuit of a Nobel prize
5. bubble chamber physics
6. a recent computation involving non-semi-simple algebras
7. over-concern with the problems of administration
8. new measurements of eta zero zero
9. information presented in CERN Courier

Table C

1. should only serve to add weight to
2. would inevitably lead to a refutation of
3. can yield conclusive information on
4. might usefully take issue with
5. must take into consideration
6. will sadly mean the end of
7. ought to stir up enthusiasm for
8. could result in a confirmation of
9. deflates the current thinking regarding

Table D

1. the need to acquire further computing capacity.
2. humanitarian concern with the personal ceiling.
3. the Veneziano model.
4. a design which produces collisions at a later stage.
5. Macbeth’s instruction to “Throw physic to the dogs.”
6. divergencies in weak interaction theory.
7. the desire to ensure that certain scientists go far.
8. bootstraps, conspiracies, poles and dips.
9. the future of physics in Europe.

— (c) CERN Courier 9, July 1969, p. 211.

Evaluation form

In accordance with the new emphasis on accountability and the Standards of Learning (S.O.L.s), the following rating scale for Mathematics Professors at the University has been devised.

Rating Scale Far Exceeds Job Requirements Exceeds Job Requirements Meets Job Requirements Needs Some Improvement Does Not Meet Minimum Requirements
QUALITY Leaps tall buildings with a single bound Must take running start to leap over tall buildings Can leap over short buildings only Crashes into buildings when attempting to jump over them Cannot recognize buildings at all
TIMELINESS Is faster than a speeding bullet Is as fast as a speeding bullet Not quite as fast as a speeding bullet Would you believe a slow bullet? Wounds self with bullet when attempting to shoot
INITIATIVE Is stronger than a locomotive Is stronger than a bull elephant Is stronger than a bull Shoots the bull Is full of bull
ADAPTABILITY Walks on water Treads water Washes with water Drinks water Passes water in emergencies
COMMUNICATION Talks with God Talks with the angels Talks to himself Argues with himself Loses arguments with himself
LOGIC Understands Godel Has read Godel Can pronounce Godel Wears a girdle Can’t recognize a girdle
ALGEBRA Can prove Fermat’s Last Theorem Can develop the Quadratic Formula Can use the Quadratic formula Can spell the word Quadratic Advocates being a radical
GEOMETRY Creates consistent sets of axioms Proves original theorems Accepts axioms Proves axioms Disproves axioms
CALCULUS Does elliptical integrals by inspection Can prove the Fundamental Theorem Has heard of the Fundamental Theorem Advocates table of integration Advocates busing for integration


  • “This class was a religious experience for me… I had to take it all of faith.”
  • “Text makes a satisfying thud when dropped on the floor.”
  • “The class is worthwhile because I need it for the degree.”
  • “His blackboard technique puts Rembrandt to shame.”
  • “Textbook is confusing. Someone with a knowledge of English should proofread it.”
  • “Did you ever fall asleep in class and awake in another? That’s the way I felt all term.”
  • “In class I learn I can fudge answers and get away with it.”
  • “Keep lecturer or tenure board will be shot.”
  • “The T.A. would make a good parking lot attendant. Tries to tell you where to go, but you can never understand him.”
  • “Text is not useless. I use it to kill roaches in my room.”
  • “In class the syllabus is more important than you are.”
  • “I am convinced that you can learn by osmosis by just sitting in his class.”
  • “Help! I’ve fallen asleep and I can’t wake up!”
  • “Problem sets are a decoy to lure you away from potential exam material.”
  • “Recitation was great. It was so confusing that I forgot who I was, where I was, and what I was doing. It’s a great stress reliever.”
  • “He is one of the best teachers I have had. He is well-organized, presents good lectures, and creates interest in the subject. I hope my comments don’t hurt his chances of getting tenure.”
  • “I would sit in class and stare out the window at the squirrels. They’ve got a cool nest in the tree.”
  • “He teaches like Speedy Gonzalez on a caffeine high.”
  • “This course kept me out of trouble from 2:00 — 4:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
  • “Most of us spent the first three weeks terrified of the class. Then solidarity kicked in.”
  • “Bogus number crunching. My HP is exhausted.”
  • “The absolute value of the T.A. was less than epsilon.”
  • “T.A. steadily improved throughout the course. I think he started drinking and it really loosened him up.”
  • “Information was presented like a ruptured fire hose — spraying in all directions with no way to stop it.”
  • “I never bought the text. My $60 was better spent on the Led Zeppelin tapes that I used more while doing the problem sets that I would have used the text.”
  • “The textbook would be more enjoyable if served in an alfredo sauce.”
  • “What’s the quality of the text? Text is printed on high quality paper.’”

Evolution of mathematical teaching

The potato problem

A peasant sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price. What is his profit?

A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price, that is, $8. What is his profit?

1970s (new math):
A farmer exchanges a set P of potatoes with set M of money. The cardinality of the set M is equal to 10, and each element of M is worth $1. Draw ten big dots representing the elements of M. The set C of production costs is composed of two big dots less than the set M. Represent C as a subset of M and give the answer to the question: What is the cardinality of the set of profits?

A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are $8, and his profit is $2. Underline the word “potatoes” and discuss with your classmates.

A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His or her production costs are 0.80 of his or her revenue. On your calculator, graph revenue versus costs. Run the POTATO program to determine the profit. Discuss the result with students in your group. Write a brief essay that analyzes this example in the real world of economics.

— (c) The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 101, No. 5, May 1994.

The logging problem

A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?

A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount, i.e. $80. What is his profit?

1970s (new math):
A logger exchanges a set L of lumber for a set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100. The set C of production costs contains 20 fewer points. What is the cardinality of Set P of profits?

A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost is $80 and her profit is $20. Find and circle the number 20.

An unenlightened logger cuts down a beautiful stand of 100 trees in order to make a $20 profit. Write an essay explaining how you feel about this as a way to make money. Topic for discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?

— (c) Reader’s Digest, February 1996.

 Let there by light

In the beginning there was the computer. And God said:

C:\>Let there be light
Enter user id.
Enter password.
Password incorrect. Try again.
Password incorrect. Try again.

And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Sunday, March 1.

C:\>Let there be light
Unrecognizable command. Try again.
C:\>Create light
C:\>Run heaven and earth

And God created Day and Night. And God saw there were 0 errors.
And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Sunday, March 1.
And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Monday, March 2.

C:\>Let there be firmament in the midst of water and light
Unrecognizable command. Try again.
C:\>Create firmament
C:\>Run firmament

And God divided the waters. And God saw there were 0 errors.
And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Monday, March 2.
And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Tuesday, March 3.

C:\>Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one
    place and let the dry land appear
Too many characters in specification string. Try again.
C:\>Create dry_land
C:\>Run dry_land

And God divided the waters. And God saw there were 0 errors.
And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Tuesday, March 3.
And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Wednesday, March 4.

C:\>Create lights in the firmament to divide the day
    from the night
Unspecified type. Try again.
C:\>Create sun_moon_stars
C:\>Run sun_moon_stars

And God created the heavens. And God saw there were 0 errors.
And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Wednesday, March 4.
And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Thursday, March 5.

C:\>Create great creatures of the sea and every living and
    moving thing with which the water teems, according to
    their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind
Unspecified type. Try again.
C:\>Create fish
C:\>Create fowl
C:\>Run fish, fowl

And so God created the fish and the fowl. And God saw there were 0 errors.
And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Thursday, March 5.
And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Friday, March 6.

C:\>Create wild animals according to their kinds, the
    livestock according to their kinds, and all the
    creatures that move along the ground according to
    their kinds
Unspecified type. Try again.
C:\>Create cattle
C:\>Create creepy_things
C:\>Now let us make man in our image
Unspecified type. Try again.
C:\>Create man
C:\>Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and
    subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea
    and over the fowl of the air and over every
    living thing that creepeth upon the earth
Too many command operands. Try again.
>C:\>Run multiplication
Execution terminated. 6 errors.
C:\>Insert breath
C:\>Run multiplication
Execution terminated. 5 errors.
C:\>Move man to Garden of Eden
File Garden of Eden does not exist.
C:\>Create Garden.edn
C:\>Move man to Garden.edn
C:\>Run multiplication
Execution terminated. 4 errors.
C:\>Copy woman from man
C:\>Run multiplication
Execution terminated. 2 errors.
C:\>Create desire
C:\>Run multiplication

And God saw man and woman being fruitful and multiplying in Garden.edn.

Warning: No time limit on this run. 1 errors.
C:\>Create freewill
C:\>Run freewill

And God saw man and woman being fruitful and multiplying in Garden.edn.

Warning: No time limit on this run. 1 errors.
C:\>Undo desire
Desire cannot be undone once freewill is created.
C:\>Destroy freewill
Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed.
Enter replacement, cancel, or ask for help.
Desire cannot be undone once freewill is created.
Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed.
Enter replacement, cancel, or ask for help.
C:\>Create tree_of_knowledge

And God saw man and woman being fruitful and multiplying in Garden.edn.

Warning: No time limit on this run. 1 errors.
C:\>Create good, evil
C:\>Activate evil

And God saw he had created shame.

Warning system error in sector E95.
Man and woman not in Garden.edn. 1 errors.
C:\>Scan Garden.edn for man, woman
Search failed.
C:\>Delete shame
Shame cannot be deleted once evil has been activated.
C:\>Destroy freewill
Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed.
Enter replacement, cancel, or ask for help.
Unrecognizable command. Try again
C:\>Create new world
You have exceeded your allocated file space.
You must destroy old files before new ones can be created.
C:\>Destroy earth
Destroy earth: Please confirm.
C:\>Destroy earth confirmed

And God logged off at 11:59:59 PM, Friday, March 6.
And at 12:00:01 AM, Sunday, March 8, God created Macintosh.

A guide to terms used in research mathematics and science

1. Terms used in higher math

The following is a guide to the weary student of mathematics who is often confronted with terms which are commonly used but rarely defined.

In the search for proper definitions for these terms we found no authoritative, nor even recognized, source. Thus, we followed the advice of mathematicians handed down from time immortal: “Wing It.”

I don’t want to write down all the “in-between” steps.

If I have to show you how to do this, you’re in the wrong class.

I hope you weren’t sleeping when we discussed this earlier, because I refuse to repeat it.

I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but for those of you who erase your memory tapes after every test…

WLOG (Without loss of generality)
I’m not about to do all the possible cases, so I’ll do one and let you figure out the rest.

It can be easily shown
Even you, in your finite wisdom, should be able to prove this without me holding your hand.

Check or Check for yourself
This is the boring part of the proof, so you can do it on your own time.

Sketch of proof
I couldn’t verify all the details, so I’ll break it down into the parts I couldn’t prove.

The hardest of several possible ways to do a proof.

Brute force
Four special cases, three counting arguments, two long inductions, and a partridge in a pair tree.

Soft Proof
One third less filling (of the page) than your regular proof, but it requires two extra years of course work just to understand the terms.

Elegant proof
Requires no previous knowledge of the subject matter and is less than ten lines long.

At least one line of the proof of this case is the same as before.

Canonical form
4 out of 5 mathematicians surveyed recommended this as the final form for their students who choose to finish.

TFAE (The following are equivalent)
If I say this it means that, and if I say that it means the other thing, and if I say the other thing…

By a previous theorem
I don’t remember how it goes (come to think of it I’m not really sure we did this at all), but if I stated it right (or at all), then the rest of this follows.

Two line proof
I’ll leave out everything but the conclusion, you can’t question ‘em if you can’t see ‘em.

I’m running out of time, so I’ll just write and talk faster.

Let’s talk through it
I don’t want to write it on the board lest I make a mistake.

Proceed formally
Manipulate symbols by the rules without any hint of their true meaning (popular in pure math courses).

I can’t find anything wrong with your proof except that it won’t work if x is a moon of Jupiter (Popular in applied math courses).

Proof omitted
Trust me, I know what I’m doing.

2. Terms used in writing research papers

It has long been known that
I haven’t bothered to look up the original reference

Of great theoretical and practical importance
Interesting to me

While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions
The experiments didn’t work out, but I figured I could at least get a publication out of it

The W-Pb system was chosen as especially suitable to show the predicted behavior
The fellow in the next lab had some already made up

High purity / very high purity / extremely high purity / super-purity / specroscopically pure
Composition unknown except for the exaggerated claims of the supplier

A fiducial reference line
A scratch

Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study
The results on the others didn’t make sense and were ignored

Accidentally strained during mounting
Dropped on the floor

Handled with extreme care throughout the experiments
Not dropped on the floor

Typical results are shown
The best results are shown

Although some detail has been lost in the reproduction, it is clear from the original micrograph that
It is impossible to tell from the micrograph that

Presumably at longer times
I didn’t take the time to find out

The agreement with the predicted curve is excellent




As good as could be expected

These results will be reported at a later date
I might possibly get around to this sometime

The most reliable values are those of Jones
Jones was a student of mine

It is suggested that / It is believed that / It may be that
I think

It is generally believed that
A couple of other guys think so too

It might be argued that
I have such a good answer to this objection that I shall now raise it

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding…
I don’t understand it

Unfortunately, a quantitative theory to account for these effects has not been formulated
Neither does anybody else

Correct within an order of magnitude

It is hoped that this work will stimulate further work in the field
This paper isn’t very good, but neither are any of the others in this miserable subject

Thanks are due to Joe Glotz for assistance with the experiments and to John Doe for valuable discussions
Joe Glotz did the work and John Does explained what it meant

— (c) C. D. Graham, Jr., from Metal Progress, 71, 75 (1957)

3. Terms used in presenting research papers

A reference to work of an author whose work is to be attacked

A surprising finding
We barely had time to revise the abstract. Of course we fired the technician.

Preliminary experiments have shown that
We did it once but couldn’t repeat it

The method, in our hands
Somebody didn’t publish all the directions

A survey of the earlier literature
I even read through some of last year’s journals

Careful statistical analysis
After going through a dozen books, we finally found one obscure test that we could apply

We are excited by this finding
It looks publishable

We have a tentative explanation
I picked this up in a bull session last night

We didn’t carry out the long-term study
We like to go home by 5 pm. What do you think we are, slaves?

The mechanism is not clear
We plan to do a second experiment as soon as we get home

4. Terms used in discussing research papers

We say this with trepidation
(a) We are going out on a limb when in the presence of an author whose work is to be, or has been, attacked, or
(b) We are about to make a statement about something we know nothing about

Could you discuss your findings?
Tell us now. Don’t hide it in some obscure journal.

Have you considered the possibility…?
Have you read my work?

Have you any ideas at all…?
What are you keeping from us?

Would you care to speculate…?
I wonder if you agree with me?

Why do you believe…?
You’re out of your mind

I would like to make one comment on these suggestions

We cannot reconcile the data
Are you telling the truth?

We have repeated your experiments in our lab
Brother, were we surprised!

Did I read your slide correctly?
Did you write it correctly? I never make mistakes.

— (c) David Kritchevsky and R. J. van der Wal,
from Proceedings of the Chemical Society, May 1960, p. 173.


Bill seeks to change value of pi

HUNTSVILLE, AL. NASA engineers and mathematicians in this high-tech city are stunned and infuriated after the Alabama state legistature narrowly passed a law yesterday redefining π (pi), a mathematical constant used in the aerospace industry. The bill to change the value of π to exactly 3 was introduced without fanfare by Leonard Lee Lawson (R, Crossville), and rapidly gained support after a letter-writing campaign by members of the Solomon Society, a traditional values group. Governor Guy Hunt says he will sign it into law on Wednesday.

The law took the state’s engineering community by surprise. “It would have been nice if they had consulted with someone who actually uses π,” said Marshall Bergman, a manager at the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. According to Bergman, π is a Greek letter that signifies the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is often used by engineers to calculate missile trajectories.

Prof. Kim Johanson, a mathematician from University of Alabama, said that π is a universal constant, and cannot arbitrarily be changed by lawmakers. Johanson explained that π is an irrational number, which means that it has an infinite number of digits after the decimal point and can never be known exactly. Nevertheless, she said, π is precisly defined by mathematics to be “3.14159, plus as many more digits as you have time to calculate”.

“I think that it is the mathematicians that are being irrational, and it is time for them to admit it,” said Lawson. “The Bible very clearly says in I Kings 7:23 that the alter font of Solomon’s Temple was ten cubits across and thirty cubits in diameter, and that it was round in compass.”

Lawson called into question the usefulness of any number that cannot be calculated exactly, and suggested that never knowing the exact answer could harm students’ self-esteem. “We need to return to some absolutes in our society,” he said, “the Bible does not say that the font was thirty-something cubits. Plain reading says thirty cubits. Period.”

Science supports Lawson, explains Russell Humbleys, a propulsion technician at the Marshall Spaceflight Center who testified in support of the bill before the legislature in Mongtomery on Monday. “π is merely an artifact of Euclidean geometry.” Humbleys is working on a theory which he says will prove that π is determined by the geometry of three-dimensional space, which is assumed by physicists to be “isotropic”, or the same in all directions.

“There are other geometries, and π is different in every one of them,” says Humbleys. Scientists have arbitrarily assumed that space is Euclidean, he says. He points out that a circle drawn on a spherical surface has a different value for the ratio of circumfence to diameter. “Anyone with a compass, flexible ruler, and globe can see for themselves,” suggests Humbleys, “it’s not exactly rocket science.”

Roger Learned, a Solomon Society member who was in Montgomery to support the bill, agrees. He said that π is nothing more than an assumption by the mathematicians and engineers who were there to argue against the bill. “These nabobs waltzed into the capital with an arrogance that was breathtaking,” Learned said. “Their prefatorial deficit resulted in a polemical stance at absolute contraposition to the legislature’s puissance.”

Some education experts believe that the legislation will affect the way math is taught to Alabama’s children. One member of the state school board, Lily Ponja, is anxious to get the new value of π into the state’s math textbooks, but thinks that the old value should be retained as an alternative. She said, “As far as I am concerned, the value of π is only a theory, and we should be open to all interpretations.” She looks forward to students having the freedom to decide for themselves what value π should have.

Robert S. Dietz, a professor at Arizona State University who has followed the controversy, wrote that this is not the first time a state legislature has attempted to redifine the value of π. A legislator in the state of Indiana unsuccessfully attempted to have that state set the value of pi to 3. According to Dietz, the lawmaker was exasperated by the calculations of a mathematician who carried π to four hundred decimal places and still could not achieve a rational number. Many experts are warning that this is just the beginning of a national battle over π between traditional values supporters and the technical elite. Solomon Society member Lawson agrees. “We just want to return π to its traditional value,” he said, “which, according to the Bible, is three.”

This was originally posted to the newsgroup talk.origins on April Fool’s Day 1998, as well as sent to a list of New Mexican scientists and citizens interested in evolution, and printed in the April issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter NMSR Reports. Its talk.origins poster followed up a day later with a full confession and explanation of the prank, but it is commonly perported on the world wide web as true.

As a final note, while the ALabama legislature never attempted to legislate the value of pi, the state of Indiana did. In 1897, House Bill No. 246 tried to legislate, among other things, the value of pi to be 3.2 exactly. While it passed in the House, the Senate agreed to postpone it indefinitely after being “coached” by a Purdue mathematician.

Nebraska to appeal law of gravity

LINCOLN, NE. Today legislators in the Nebraska State Senate have begun debate on a controversial measure to forbid the teaching of gravity in all institutions accepting state funds.

Wilburt F. Harsheill, co-chair of the Religious Freedom Union of America, testified before the Senate Education Sub-Committee that “gravity is just one of many possible explanations why water flows downhill. To eliminate the possibility of Divine Intervention is an affront to the millions of church-goers in our country.”

In a long and impassioned presentation Harsheill went on to assert that “the secular humanists in charge of education policy in our nation have no explanation for the Ascension of Christ or Old Faithful and that students should be exposed to all sides equally.

— (c) Massimo Pigliucci.

Remarks you are not likely to find in a journal

“Throughout this paper, for simplicity, we adopt the convention that all symbols are considered to have the same meaning. The precise nature of that meaning is left as an exercise to the reader.”

“This paper is dedicated to my graduate students, without whom it would have taken much less time to write.”

“If the preceding argument is unclear, simply replace all variables with the Middle High German for flamingo and proceed as in Lemma 6.”

“Before giving the proof of Theorem 4, it is necessary to make a few preliminary remarks. Hi Mom!”

“Let k(T) denote the space of formal linear combinations of Tunisian government officials, with coefficients in an arbitrary field k.”

“Proof: God (personal communication).”

“Proof: Duh.”

“We study herein the irreducible holomorphic representations of a compact connected simply connected reductive classical linear algebraic group over a complete algebraically closed field of prime characteristic, to which we will refer as thingamabobs.”

“Supported in part by Betty Ford Foundation grant no. M165-4807.”

“Thanks are due to the second author’s imaginary friend for helpful conversations.”

“For further discussion see M. Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are, pp. 8-10, illustrations.”

“The following proof is easiest to understand if chanted in Swahili.”

“We adopt the notational convention that all statements in 12-point type are categorically false.”

“If the preceding proof seems unclear, try it your own damn self.”


Scientific Snakes and Ladders

– P. J. Duke
Orbit, Journal of the Rutherford High Energy Laboratory,
(c) December 1963, p 10.

Special High-Intensity Teaching

Memo to all students:

In order to assure the highest levels of quality work and productivity from students, it will be our policy to keep all students well taught through our program of Special High Intensity Teaching (SHIT). We are trying to give our students more SHIT than anyone else.

If you feel that you do not receive your share of SHIT on the course, please see your lecturer. You will be immediately placed at the top of the SHIT list, and our lecturers are especially skilled at seeing that you get all the SHIT you can handle.

Students who don’t take their SHIT will be placed in Departmental Educational Evaluation Programs (DEEP SHIT). Those who fail to take DEEP SHIT seriously will have to go to Educational Attitude Training (EAT SHIT). Since our lecturers took SHIT before they graduated, they don’t have to do SHIT anymore, and are all full of SHIT already.

If you are full of SHIT, you may be interested in a job teaching others. We can add your name to our Basic Understanding Lecture List (BULL SHIT).

For students who are intending to pursue a career in management and consultancy, we will refer you to the department of Managerial Operational Research Education (MORE SHIT). This course emphasizes on how to manage MORE SHIT.

If you have further questions, please direct them to our Head of Teaching, Special High-Intensity Teaching (HOT SHIT).

Thank you,

Boss In General,
Special High-Intensity Teaching


Ten Commandments of Mathematics

1. Thou shalt read thy problem.

2. Whatsoever thou doest to one side of ye equation, do thou also to the other.

3. Thou must use thy “Common Sense,” else thou wilt have flagpoles 9,000 feet in height, yea, even fathers younger than their sons.

4. Thou shalt ignore the teachings of false prophets to do work in thy head.

5. When thou knowest not, thou shalt look it up, and if thy search still elude thee, then thou shalt ask the all-knowing professor.

6. Thou shalt master each step before putting thy heavy foot down on the next.

7. Thy correct answer does not prove that thou hast worked thy problem correctly. This argument convincest none, least of all, thy teacher.

8. Thou shalt first see that thou hast copied thy problem correctly before bearing false witness that the answer book lieth.

9. Thou shalt look back even unto thy youth and remember thy arithmetic.

10. Thou shalt learn, speak, write, and listen correctly in the language of mathematics, and verily A’s and B’s shall follow thee even unto graduation.

Traditional-to-contemporary math dictionary

Today it is considered an egregious faux pas to speak or write in the crude antedated terms of our grandfathers. To assist the isolated student and the less sophisticated teacher, we have prepared the following list of currently fashionable mathematical terms in academia. We pass this list on to the general public as a matter of charity and in the hope that it will lead to more refined elucidation from young scholars.

What’s Out? What’s In?
thinking hypothesizing
proof by contradiction
indirect proof
reductio ad absurdum
mistake non sequitur
starting place handle
with corresponding changes mutatis mutandis
counterexample pathological exception
consequently ipso facto
swallowing results digesting proofs
therefore ergo
has an easy-to-understand but hard-to-find solution obvious
has two easy-to-understand but hard-to-find solutions trivial
truth tautology
empty vacuous
drill problems plug-n-chug work
criteria rubric
example substantive instantiation
similar structure homomorphic
very similar structure isomorphic
same area isometric
arithmetic number theory
count enumerate
one unity
generally globally
specifically locally
constant invariant
bonus result corollary
distance metric measure
several a plurality
function operator
argument operand
fourth power
random stochastic
unique condition singularity
uniqueness unicity
tends to zero vanishes
tip-top point apex
half-closed half-open
concave non-convex
rectangular prism parallelopiped
perpendicular (adj.) orthogonal
perpendicular (n.) normal
Euclid Descartes
Fermat Wiles
path trajectory
shift rectilinear translation
similar homologous
very similar congruent
change direction perturb
join concatenate
approximate to two or more decimal places accurate
high school geometry
plane geometry
geometry of the Euclidean plane under the Pythagorean metric
clever scheme algorithm
brace, { squiggle
decimal denary
alphabetical order lexicographical order

— (c) Michael Stueden, November 7, 1994.

The ultimate test

Read each of the following fifteen problems carefully. Answer all parts to each problem.
Time limit: 4 hours. Begin immediately.

Describe the history of the papacy from its origin to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on it social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
Be brief, concise and specific.

You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix.
Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have 15 minutes.

2500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 50 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate it and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your desk.

Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Alexander of Aphrodites, Ramses II, Gregory of Nicea, and Hammurabi.
Support your evaluation with quotations from each man’s work, making appropriate references. It is not necessary to translate.

Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct and experiment to test your theory.

The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed on your desk. You will also find and instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In ten minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.

Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, and the wave theory of light. Outline a method for preventing these effects. Criticize this method from all possible points of view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War III. Report at length on its social-political effects, if any.

Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.

Create a small rapidly rotating black hole. Investigate and report on its effects on the opto-electric properties of Seaborgium (element #106). Clean up your experiment after you’ve finished.

Sketch the development of human thought and estimate its significance.
Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

Define the universe. Give three examples.

Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

(c) William Nivak, “The Big Book of New American Humor.”

Upgrade to BOOK

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade-named BOOK.

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere-even sitting in an armchair by the fire-yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here’s how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable),each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it. BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though, like other devices, it can become damaged if coffee is spilled on it and it becomes unusable if dropped too many times on a hard surface. The “browse” feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an “index” feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional “BOOKmark” accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session-even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. BOOK’s appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Upgrade to Etch-A-Sketch


The Mathematics Department has determined that, in order to cut operational costs, the Department no longer has any need for any computers in the classrooms.

The goal is to remove all computers from the desktop by Jan 1, 2001. Instead, everyone will be provided with an Etch-A-Sketch. For those of you who had deprived childhoods, Etch-A-Sketches are those fun square like toys where you get to draw things in a sand like environment using little knobs.

Our dean has determined that the following action is being taken for the following reasons.

  1. No technical glitches keeping work from being done.
  2. No more wasted time reading and writing emails.
  3. No more games with “Boss” Buttons.
  4. No more need for network or software applications support.

Since we no longer will be having internal technical support, we are supplying you with the following guidelines for using your new equipment.

FAQ for Etch-A-Sketch Technical Support

Q: My Etch-A-Sketch has all of these funny little lines all over the screen.
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I create a New Document window?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What is the proper procedure for re-booting my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I save my Etch-A-Sketch document?
A: Don’t shake it.

Upgrade to graduate students

The upgrade path to the most powerful and satisfying computer:

  • Pocket calculator
  • Commodore Pet / Apple II / TRS 80 / Commodore 64 / Timex Sinclair
    (Choose any of these)
  • IBM PC
  • Apple Macintosh
  • Fastest workstation of the time (HP, DEC, IBM, SGI: your choice)
  • Minicomputer (HP, DEC, IBM, SGI: your choice)
  • Mainframe (IBM, Cray, DEC: your choice)

And then you reach the pinnacle of modern computing facilities…

Graduate students!

Yes, you just sit back and do all of your computing through lowly graduate students. Imagine the advantages:

Multi-processing, with as many processes as you have students. You can easily add more power by promising more desperate undergrads that they can indeed escape college through your guidance. Special student units can even handle several tasks on their own!

Full voice recognition interface. Never touch a keyboard or mouse again. Just mumble commands and they will be understood (or else!).

No hardware upgrades and no installation required. Every student comes complete with all hardware necessary. Never again fry a chip or $10,000 board by improper installation! Just sit that sniveling student at a desk, give it writing utensils (making sure to point out which is the dangerous end) and off it goes.

Low maintenance. Remember when that hard disk crashed in your Beta 9900, causing all of your work to go the great bit bucket in the sky? This won’t happen with grad. students. All that is required is that you give them a good *whack!* upside the head when they are acting up, and they will run good as new.

Abuse module. Imagine yelling expletives at your computer. Doesn’t work too well, because your machine just sits there and ignores you. Through the grad student abuse module you can put the fear of god in them, and get results to boot!

Built-in lifetime. Remember that awful feeling two years after you bought your GigaPlutz mainframe when the new faculty member on the block sneered at you because his FeelyWup workstation could compute rings around your dinosaur? This doesn’t happen with grad. students. When they start wearing and losing productivity, simply give them the PhD and boot them out onto the street to fend for themselves. Out of sight, out of mind!

Cheap fuel. Students run on Coca Cola (or the high-octane equivalent — Jolt Cola) and typically consume hot spicy chinese dishes, cheap taco substitutes, or completely synthetic macaroni replacements. It is entirely unnecessary to plug the student into the wall socket (although this does get them going a little faster from time to time).

Expansion options. If your grad. students don’t seem to be performing too well, consider adding a handy system manager or software engineer upgrade. These guys are guaranteed to require even less than a student, and typically establish permanent residence in the computer room. You’ll never know they are around! (Which you certainly can’t say for an AXZ3000-69 150gigahertz space-heater sitting on your desk with its ten noisy fans….) [Note however that the engineering department still hasn’t worked out some of the idiosyncratic bugs in these expansion options, such as incessant muttering at nobody in particular, occasionally screaming at your grad. students, and posting ridiculous messages on world-wide bulletin boards.]

So forget your Babbage Engines and abacuses (abaci?) and PortaBooks and DEK 666-3D’s and all that other silicon garbage. The wave of the future is in wetware, so invest in graduate students today! You’ll never go back!

Upgrade to Mathematical Information Access Software System

This memo is to announce the development of a new software system for use in our Mathematics Department.

We are currently building a data center that will contain all files, documents, and date used by our and other Mathematics Departments worldwide. The program is referred to as the “Mathematical Information Access Software System” (MIASS).

Next Monday at 9:00 there will be a department-wide meeting in which I will show MIASS to everyone. We will continue to hold demonstrations throughout the month so that all faculty, staff, and graduate students will have an opportunity to get a good look at MIASS.

As for the status of the implementation of the program, I have not addressed the networking aspects so currently only one person at a time can use MIASS. This restriction will be removed after MIASS expands.

Several people are using the program already and have come to depend on it. Just this morning I walked into a professor’s office and was not surprised to find that he had his nose buried in MIASS. I’ve noticed that some of the less technical personnel are somewhat afraid of MIASS.

Just last week, when asked to enter some information into the program, I had a secretary at the Front Desk say to me “I’m a little nervous, I’ve never put anything in MIASS before.” I volunteered to help her through her first time and when we were through she admitted that it was relatively painless and she was actually looking forward to doing it again. She went so far to say that after using SAP and Oracle, she was ready to kiss MIASS.

I know there are concerns over the virus that was found in MIASS upon initial installation, but I’m pleased to say the virus has been eliminated and we were able to save MIASS. In the future, however, protection will be required prior to entering MIASS.

We planned this database to encompass all information associated with the Department. So as you begin to use the program, feel free to put anything you want into MIASS. As MIASS grows larger, we envision a time when it will be common place to walk by an office and see a professor hand a paper to a grad student and say “Here, stick this in MIASS.”

The program has already demonstrated great benefit to the Department during recent audits by the University Regents. After requesting certain historical data the University representatives were amazed at how quickly we provided information. When asked how numbers could be retrieved so rapidly our Department Chair proudly stated “Simple, I just pulled them out of MIASS.”

Upgrade to Microsoft God

REDMOND, WA. Microsoft Corporation today announced its intent to purchase, copyright, and upgrade God Himself. The new product would be named, predictably enough, “Microsoft God,” and would be available to consumers sometime in late 1998, well before the millennium.

“Too many people feel separated from God in today’s world,” said Dave McCavaugh, director of Microsoft’s new Religions division. “Microsoft God will make our Lord more accessible, and will add an easy, intuitive user interface to Him, making Him not only easier to find, but easier to communicate with.”

The new Microsoft Religions line will be expanded to include a multitude of add-on products to Microsoft God, including:

  • Microsoft Crusades: This conversion product will bring all worshiper accounts and prayer files over from previous versions of God, or from competing products like Buddha or Allah.
  • Microsoft God for the World Wide Web: This product ties Microsoft God with Microsoft Internet Information Server, making our Lord accessible from the World Wide Web using a standard Web browser interface. It introduces several new Web technologies, including Dynamic Salvation and Active Prayer Pages (APP). Donations for the poor can be donated via a Secure Alms Server.
  • Microsoft Prayers: Using a Windows-based WYSIWYG interface, this product will allow worshipers to construct effective prayers in a minimum of time. A Secure Prayer Channel technology allows guaranteed delivery of the prayer to Microsoft God servers, and Prayer Wizards enable users to construct new types of prayers with a minimum learning curve.
  • Microsoft Savior: This product will allow worshipers to transfer their sins to its internal Vice Database. After a preset interval, the product will erase itself from the user’s system and establish a clear line of secure communications to the user’s Microsoft God server. Additionally, Microsoft is expected to announce a line of complimentary products for the new Religions line, which will enhance the functionality of the Microsoft God server product by providing a customized user interface. These interfaces will be based on popular religious sects, allowing worshipers to interact with the new God product in much the same way as the previous version. This line is expected to include Microsoft Protestant, Microsoft Catholicism, Microsoft Judaism (incompatible with Microsoft Savior), etc.

Competitor Netscape Communications denies rumors that it is planning to release a competing product, Netscape Satan, that would attempt to render Microsoft God installations inoperable.

— Originally posted on CyberCheeze.com

Why God would never get tenure

  1. He had only one major publication.
  2. And it was in Hebrew.
  3. And it had no references.
  4. And it was not published in a refereed journal.
  5. And some even doubted that He wrote it Himself.
  6. It may be true that He created the world, but what has He done since then?
  7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
  8. The scientific community has had a very rough time trying to replicate His results.
  9. He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects.
  10. When one experiment went awry, He tried to cover it up by drowning the subjects.
  11. When subjects did not behave as predicted, He often punished them, or just deleted them from the sample.
  12. He rarely came to class: He just told students to read the book.
  13. He has his son teach the class.
  14. He expelled His first two students for learning too much.
  15. Although there were only ten requirements, most students failed His tests.
  16. His office hours were infrequent, and usually held on a mountain top.

Words of wisdom

  • The good Christian should be aware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell. (St. Augustine)
  • A man whose mind has gone astray should study mathematics. (Francis Bacon)
  • A person who can, within a year, solve x2 – 92y2 = 1 is a mathematician. (Brahmagupta)
  • A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there. (Charles R Darwin)
  • A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. (P. Erdos)
  • Mathematicians, like cows in the dark, all look alike to me. (Abraham Flexner)
  • Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them, they translate it into their own language, and forthwith it means something entirely different. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
  • Medicine makes people ill, mathematics make them sad and theology makes them sinful. (Martin Luther)
  • He who can properly define and divide is to be considered a god. (Plato)
  • For people with small horizons, every function is constant. (Oscar Bruno)
  • All you need for differentiation is a strong right arm and a weak mind. (Ron Getoor)
  • Obvious is in the the of the beholder. (Ron Getoor)
  • Sometimes the Devil lurks in sets of measure zero. (Ron Getoor)
  • There are two kinds of results in mathematics: those that are obvious and those that are false. (Ron Getoor)
  • There are no deep theorems — only theorems that we have not understood very well. (Nicholas P. Goodman)
  • The world is everywhere dense with idiots. (L. F. S.)
  • It’s only the false things that are nontrivial. (Michael Sharpe)
  • Everything is trivial when you know the proof. (D. V. Widder)
  • Be sure to show your work for partial credit. You guys live and die by partial credit… In fact, everybody lives and dies by partial credit. Nobody gets anything right anymore. (Albert Stralka)
  • Break ties with parantheses. (Sam Buss)
  • You should always worry about the integers in the “dot dot dot” portion of a definition. (Sam Buss)
  • It’s Monday, so I use “Delta z” notation. (Carl FitzGerald)
  • This is proof by repeated assertion. (Joel Franklin)
  • We will prove this by the method of prolonged staring. (Joel Franklin)
  • A method in mathematics is a trick that is used more than once. (Ron Getoor)
  • One should always generalize. [Man muss immer generalisieren]. (Carl Jacobi)
  • A correct answer, ill gotten, does not beget full credit. (Tom O’Neil)
  • The biggest matrix on the test will be 3 X 3 or 4 X 4. This is a test, not real life. (Michael Sand)
  • Mathematical maturity is when you’re grown up enough to handle a “2 epsilon.” (Michael Sharpe)
  • The four branches of arithmetic — ambition, distraction, uglification and derision. (Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland)
  • As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. (Albert Einstein)
  • If you can’t explain what you are doing to a nine-year-old, then either you still don’t understand it very well, or it’s not all that worthwhile in the first place. (Albert Einstein)
  • Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. (Albert Einstein)
  • The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidty. (Harlan Ellison)
  • I’ve heard that the government wants to put a tax on the mathematically ignorant. Funny, I thought that’s what the lottery was! (Gallagher)
  • Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions. (John C. George)
  • I turn away with fear and horror from this lamentable plague of functions which do not have derivatives. (Hermite, in a letter to Stieltjes)
  • Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper. (David Hilbert)
  • Physics is much too hard for physicists. (David Hilbert)
  • A Ph.D. dissertation is a paper of the professor written under aggravating circumstances. (Adolf Hurwitz)
  • Nature laughs at the difficulties of integration. (Pierre-Simon de Laplace)
  • Everything good is either illegal, immoral, or equivalent to the Axiom of Choice. (Josh Laison)
  • If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants. (Isaac Newton)
  • If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. (Hal Abelson)
  • Mathematicians stand on each other’s shoulders. (Gauss)
  • Computer scientists stand on each other’s feet. (Richard Hamming)
  • Software engineers dig each other’s graves. (unknown)
  • Mathematics is like checkers in being suitable for the young, not too difficult, amusing, and without peril to the state. (Plato)
  • Mathematics consists of proving the most obvious thing in the least obvious way. (George Polya)
  • As long as algebra is taught in school, there will be prayer in school. (Cokie Roberts)
  • Algebraic symbols are used when you do not know what you are talking about. (Philippe Shnoebelen)
  • Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t known what I am doing. (Werner von Braun)
  • In mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them. (Johann von Neumann)
  • Five out of four people have trouble with fractions. (Steven Wright)
  • It is proven that the celebration of birthdays is healthy. Statistics show that those people who celebrate the most birthdays become the oldest. (S. den Hartog, Ph D. Thesis, Universtity of Groninge)