3) Riddles and puns


Q: Why can’t mathematicians tell jokes timing?

Q: How can you tell that a mathematician is extroverted?
A: When talking to you, he looks at your shoes instead of at his.

Q: How do you tell that you are in the hands of the Mathematical Mafia?
A: They make you an offer that you can’t understand.

Q: How does a French mathematician try to pick up chicks?
A: He asks “Voulez vous Cauchy avec moi?”

Q: What do a mathematician and an engineer have in common?
A: They are both stupid, except for the mathematician.

Q: What do you do when a civil engineer throws a grenade at you?
A: Pull the pin and throw it back.

Q: What does a mathematician do when he’s constipated?
A: He works it out with a pencil.

Q: What is the difference between a PhD in mathematics and a large pizza?
A: The pizza can feed a family of four.

Q: What would you hear at a mathematicians dance party?
A: I draw the sine, by Ace of Log-base.

Q: Why are mathematicians so negative?
A: Because they are nonplussed.

Q: Why did the computer scientist die in the shower?
A: Because he read the instructions on the shampoo bottle, “Lather, rinse, repeat.”

Q: Why did the cat fall of the roof when he lost his voice?
A: He lost his mu.

Q: What is a dilemma?
A: A lemma that proves two results.

Q: What is a proof?
A: One-half percent of alcohol.

Q: What is the difference between a lemma and a proposition?
A: You’ll never hear a lemma at a bar.

Q: What do you get when you add 2 apples to 3 apples?
A: A senior high school math problem.

Q: How many seconds are there in a year?
A: Twelve. January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd, etc…

Q: What did the the one math book say to the other math book?
A: Don’t bother me! I’ve got my own problems!

Q: What is one-fifth of a foot?
A: A toe.

Q: You are standing in the center of a square-shaped room whose walls are thirty feet long. In each corner stands a different person: Sanda Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and a smart blonde. At the same moment, they begin to walk towards you at 5 miles per hour. Who will reach you first?
A: None. None of these are real.

Q: What did the number zero say to eight?
A: Nice belt!

Q: How does a mathematician induce good behavior in her children?
A: “If I’ve told you n times, I’ve told you n+1 times…”

Q: How many times can you subtract 7 from 83, and what is left afterwards?
A: You can subtract it as many times as you want, and it leaves 76 every time.

Q: What is this?

A: A cow pi.

Q: What do you call a really big tumor?
A: A threemor.

Q: What do you get when you cross a calculator and a friend?
A: A friend you can count on!

Q: What do you get when you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin pi.

Q: What do 2 poor monomials do at a restaurant?
A: Binomial.

Q: What does the little Mermaid wear to math class?
A: An algebra.

Q: What is a forum?
A: Twoum + twoum.

Q: What is the shape of a dead parrot?1
A: A polygon.

Q: What is + + ?
A: 9 (tree plus tree plus tree).

Q: What is + + after a dust-storm?

A: 99 (dirty-tree + dirty-tree + dirty-tree).

Q: What is + + after a dust-strom and after a bird poops on each tree?
A: 100 (dirty-tree and a turd + dirty-tree and a turd + dirty-tree and a turd).

Q: What tool do you use in algebra?
A: Multi-pliers!

Q: Where do mathematicians go shopping?
a: At the decimall.

Q: Which knight of the Round Table was a mathematician?
A: Sir Cumference.

Q: (Continuing) …And what was his wife’s name?
A: Lady Di of Ameter.

Q: Who invented fractions?
A: Henry 1/8.

Q: Why should you wear glasses to math class?
A: Because it helps to improve division.

Q:What’s a tuba plus tuba?
A: Fourba!

Q: Did you hear about the romance novel written by the mathematician?
A: It starts off with:

The two lovers ran towards each other like two trains, one leaving Boston at 3:36 PM traveling at 42 miles per hour, and the other leaving Chicago at 4:18 PM traveling at 53 miles per hour…

Q: Why did the chicken cross the Moebius strip?
A: To get to the other… er… hmmm.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the Moebius strip?
A: To get to the same side.

Q: Why didn’t the chicken cross to the other side of the inequality?
A: It couldn’t get past the boundary line.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A (Fermat): It couldn’t fit on the margin on the side.
A (Godel): It cannot be proved whether or not the chicken crossed the road.
A (Erdos): It was forced to by the chicken-hole principle.
A (Riemann): The answer appears in Dirichlet’s lectures.

Q: Why didn’t the number 4 get into the nightclub?
A: Because he is 2 square

Q: Why did the two 4’s skip lunch?
A: They already 8!

Q: Why didn’t Bob drink a glass of water with 8 pieces of ice in it?
A: It was too cubed.

Q. Why was the math book sad?
A. Because it had so many problems.

Q: What did one Calculus book say to the other?
A: Don’t bother me I’ve got my own problems!

Q: What is a bird’s favorite type of math?
A: Owl-gebra.

Q: Why did the obtuse angle go to the beach?
A: Because it was over 90 degrees.

Q: Why do plants hate math?
A: Because it gives them square roots.

Q: Why did the polynomial plant die?
A: Its roots were imaginary.

Q: What do you call a snake after it drinks five cups of coffee?
A: A hyper boa.

Q: What do you call an angle that is adorable?
A: Acute angle

Q: What do you call a destroyed angle?
A: A Rect-angle.

Q: What does the little mermaid wear?
A: An algae-bra.

Q: What did the Italian mathematician say when the witch doctor removed his curse?
A: Hexagon.

Q: How do you make one vanish?
A: Add a ‘g’ to the beginning and it’s gone!

Q: How to you make seven even?
A: Remove the ‘s’ at the beginning.

Q: Why shouldn’t you argue with a decimal?
A: Decimals always have a point.

Q: What do you call a number that can’t keep still?
A: A roamin’ numeral.

Q: Why don’t you do arithmetic in the jungle?
A: Because if you add 4+4 you get ate!

Q: Divide 14 sugar cubes into 3 cups of coffee so that each cup has an odd number of sugar cubes.
A: 1, 1, and 12.
Riposte: But… 12 isn’t odd!
A: It’s an odd number of cubes to put in a cup of coffee.

Because 7 8 9

Q: Why is six afraid of seven?
A: Because seven eight nine.

Q: Why was epsilon afraid of zeta?
A: Because zeta eta theta.

Q: Why was McCoy scared of McGann?
A: Because McGann Hurt Eccleston.

Q: An English cat called “One-two-three” and a French cat called “Un-duex-trois” tried to swim the English channel. What happened?
A: Un duex trois quatre cing.

Q: Why isn’t six afraid of seven in octal?
A: Because 7 10 11.

Number and set theory

Q: What is the shortest math book?
A: The Unabridged Book of Even Primes

Q: What does an analytic number theorist say when he is drowning?
A: Log-log, log-log, log-log, . . .

Q: Why isn’t the pope is the greatest cardinal?
A: Because every pope has a successor.

Q: Why did the Pythagoran movement end when they discovered the square root of 2?
A: They couldn’t find a rational explanation for it.

Q: Why can fish from the United States enter Canadian waters without a passport?
A: The Law of Aquatic Reciprocity.

Q: How can a fisherman determine how many fish he needs to catch to make a profit?
A: By using a cod-ratic inequality.

Geometry and trig

Q: What is the difference between the diameter and the radius?
A: The radius.

Q: How many sides does a hexagon have?
A: Two. The inside and the outside.

Q: Which triangles are the coldest?
A: Ice-sosceles triangles.

Q: What did the complementary angle say to the isosceles triangle?
A: Nice legs.

Q: Why didn’t sin and tan go to the party?
A: Just cos

Q: What are the trigonometric functions for farmers?
A.1: Swine and coswine, or
A.2: Swine and cow-sine.

Q: What did the little circle say to the tangent line?
A: Quit touching me! Quit touching me!

Q: What do you call a one-sided nudie bar?
A: A Moebius strip club.

Q: What keeps a plant from moving out of a math class?
A: Its square roots, of course.
Q: How many square roots does such a plant have?
A: Two. Obviously.

Q: What is a polar bear?
A: A rectangular bear after a coordinate transform.

Q: Why couldn’t the angle get a loan?
A: His parents wouldn’t cosine.

Q: Why did the identity sin(2r) = 2sin(r) get turned down for a loan?
A: Because it needed a cos(r).

Q: Why did the mathematician-dentist name his son Pi?
A: Because everyone knows pi is transcendental.

Q: Why didn’t the Moebius strip enroll at the school?
A: They required an orientation.

Q: Why did the 30-60-90 triangle marry the 45-45-90 triangle?
A: They were right for each other.

Q: What’s the volume of a pizza with thickness a and radius z?
A: pi z z a.


Q: Did you hear the one about the statistician?
A: Probably…

Q. How did the analytic number theorist finish his email?
A. He log-logged out!

Q: What goes “Pieces of seven! Pieces of seven!”?
A: A parroty error!!

Q: Why is it that the more accuracy you demand from an interpolation function, the more expensive it becomes to compute?
A: It’s the Law of Spline Demand.


Q: What is the integral of “one over cabin” with respect to the variable “cabin”?
A 1: A natural log cabin.
A 2: Wrong, it’s a houseboat, because it’s a log cabin plus C.

Q: Why do MacLaurin series fit their functions so well?
A: They’re Taylor made for them.

Q: How does a Californian solve differential equations?
A: He uses the Perrier transform.

Q: How does a Canadian solve a differential equation?
A: He uses the Lacrosse transform.

Q: How do you find the unique solution to a differential equation?
A: Unique up on it.

Q: How do you pick up chicks in a Calculus II class?
A: “If you were f(x), then I’d like to be the integral from a to b of f(x) dx, just so I could be the area under your curves.”

Q: How does a Rabbi compute an improper integral?
A: He takes the kosher principal value.

Q: How is a Ph.D. student in Theology like the Laplacian operator?
A: They’re both a div grad.

Q: What do you get if you differentiate a cow?
A: Prime rib.

Q: Who knows everything there is to be known about vector calculus?
A: The Oracle of Del-phi.

Q: Why do pirates like calculus in polar coordinates?
A: They can integrate with respect to “Arrr.”

Q: Why did the calculus student have so much trouble making Kool-Aid?
A: Because he couldn’t figure out how to get a quart of water into the little package.


Q: Why didn’t the Romans find algebra very challenging?
A: Because X was always 10.

How do you expand (a+b)n?
A: Easily:

      ( a + b ) ^ n
   (  a  +  b  )  ^  n
(   a   +   b   )   ^   n

…and so on…

Q: Does there exist a politician who does nothing at all?
A: Yes, because politicians form a Lie group.

Q: How does an algebraist express appreciation?
A: Thanks. Thanks abelian.

Q: What is an ‘ugh’?
A: The dual of a cough.

Q: Why can’t you grow wheat in Z/6Z?
A: Because it’s not a field.

Q: Why didn’t Newton discover group theory?
A: Because he wasn’t Abel.

Q: What do you call a young eigensheep?
A: A lamb. Duh.

Q: How does an engineer define a vector space?
A: A set V satisfying the axiom that for any x in V, x has a little arrow drawn over it.

Q: How did the linear algebraist defeat the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs?
A: He used Krause-Jordan elimination.

(Bulls GM: Jerry Krause; star player: Michael Jordan)

Q: Why is the Rational Root Theorem so polite?
A: It minds its p‘s and q‘s


Q: What is the shortest mathematical joke?
A: “Let ε < 0.”

Q: What is the longest mathematical song?
A: “Aleph-nought bottles of beer on the wall.”

Q: Why did the mathematician name his dog Cauchy?
A: Because it left a residue around every pole.

Q: What’s the difference between (-1/64)1/2 and starvation?
A: The first means “i over eight.”

Q: By what process to two mathematicians determine the timbre of a musical instrument?
A: Four-ear analysis.

Q: How do you insult an analyst?
A: “Your IQ < ε.”

Q: What did the mathematician say about his dog Epsilon to the vet?
A: Let Epsilon be fixed.

Q: What do you call the irrational fear of convergent series?
A: Zenophobia.

Q: What did the mathematician say when he let epsilon go to zero?
A: Whoops! There goes the neighborhood!

Q: What did the mathematician get when he soaked a convergent sequence in brine?
A: A Cauchy pickle.

Q: What is the contour integral around Western Europe?
A: Zero, because all the Poles are in Eastern Europe!
Addendum: Actually, there ARE some Poles in Western Europe, but they are removable!

Q1: What is the fundamental computing principle of analysis?
A: Many functions can be approximated by their Taylor series to a high degree of accuracy.
Q2: What is the fundamental computing principle of physics?
A: Every function has a Taylor series that converges to it.
Q3: What is the fundamental computing principle of engineering mathematics?
A: Every function has a Taylor series that converges to the function and stops after the linear term.

Q: What is this?

  1. EA + EA + EA + EA + …,
  2. EA + EA + EA + EA + …,
  3. EA + EA + EA + EA + …,
  4. EA + EA + EA + EA + …,

A: Fourier Series.

Q: Where do the complex numbers take drinks?
A: Z, of course. [ Pronounced “zee-bar.” ]

Q: Why was Cauchy convicted in the USA for violating its constitution?
A: Because he conspired with Schwarz in advocating ineqality.

Q: Why was Cauchy committed to an insane asylum?
A: Because he was an extreme non-normal deviate.

Q: Why was Cauchy convicted for being a vagrant?
A: Because he can show no means of support.

Q: Why was the analyst afraid to drive on the interstate?
A: The width of the road was neglible compared to its length.

Q: Why are topologists especially prone to malaria?
A: This disease comes from the Tietze fly.

Q: Can you prove Lagrange’s Identity?
A: Are you kidding? It’s really hard to prove the identity of someone who’s been dead for over 150 years!

What’s purple and commutes?

Q: What’s purple and commutes?
A: An abelian grape.

Q: What is purple, commutes, and is worshipped occasionally?
A: A finitely venerated abelian grape.

Q: What’s lavender and commutes?
A: An Abelian semigrape.

Q: What’s purple, commutes, and all of its offspring have been committed to institutions?
A: A simple grape… it has no normal subgrapes.

Q: What has gills and commutes?
A: An abelian grouper.

Q: What’s purple, round, and doesn’t get much for
A: A finitely presented grape.

Q: What’s nutritious and commutes?
A: An abelian soup.

Q: What’s hot, chunky, and acts on a polygon?
A: Dihedral soup

Q: What’s an abelian group under addition, closed, associative, distributive, and bears a curse?
A: The Ring of the Nibelung.

Q: What is locally like a ring and very evil?
A: A devilish scheme.

Q: What’s black and white and fills space?
A: A piano curve.

Q: What’s green and uncountable?
A: The real lime.

Q: What’s grey and huge and has integer coefficients?
A: An elephantine equation.

Q: What’s grey and proves the uncountability of the reals?
A: Cantor’s Diagonal Elephant.

Q: What’s hallucinogenic and exists for every group with order divisible by pk?
A: A psilocybin p-subgroup.

Q: What’s old, plows, and obeys the fundamental theorem of arithmetic?
A: An antique tractorisation domain.

Q: What’s non-orientable and lives in the sea?
A: Moebius Dick.

Q: What’s polite and works for the phone company?
A: A deferential operator.

Q: What’s tasty, denim, and detects uniform convergence?
A: The Weiner-Strauss M-Test.

Q: What’s yellow and equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?
A: Zorn’s Lemmon.

Q: What is brown, furry, runs to the sea, and is equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?
A: Zorn’s lemming.

Q: What’s yellow and imaginary?
A: The square-root of negative banana.

Q: What’s yellow and has a power series expansion about each point?
A: A bananalytic function.

Q: What’s yellow, linear, normed and complete?
A: A Bananach space.

How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: 0.999…

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. It’s left to the reader as an exercise.

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. A mathematician can’t screw in a light bulb, but he can easily prove the work can be done.

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Just one, once you’ve managed to present the problem in terms he is familiar with.

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Three: one to screw it in, and two to figure out how to get rid of the remainder.

Q: How many Californians does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: Six: one to replace the bulb and five to share in the life experience.

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One, who gives it to six Californians, thereby reducing it to an earlier riddle.

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: In earlier work, Wiener [1] has shown that one mathematician can change a light bulb. Now, f k mathematicians can change a light bulb, and if one more simply watches them do it, then k+1 mathematicians will have changed the light bulb. Therefore, by induction, for all n in the positive integers, n mathematicians can change a light bulb.

[1] Weiner, Matthew P,…

Q: How many analysts does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Three. One to prove existence, one to prove uniqueness and one to derive a nonconstructive algorithm to do it.

Q: How many Bourbakists does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: Changing a light bulb is a special case of a more general theorem concerning the maintain and repair of an electrical system. To establish upper and lower bounds for the number of personnel required, we must determine whether the sufficient conditions of Lemma 2.1 (Availability of personnel) and those of Corollary 2.3.55 (Motivation of personnel) apply. If these conditions are met, we derive the result by an application of the theorems in Section 3.11.23. The resulting upper bound is, of course, a result in an abstract measure space, in the weak-* topology.

Q: How many classical geometers does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: None. You can’t do it with a straight edge and a compass.

Q: How many constructivist mathematicians does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: None. They do not believe in infinitesimal rotations.

Q: How many light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, if it knows its own Godel number.

Q: How many mathematical logicians does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: None. They can’t do it, but they can prove that it can be done.

Q: How many number theorists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I don’t know the exact number, but I am sure it must be some rather elegant prime.

Q: How many numerical analysts does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: 0.9967, after six iterations.

Q: How many simulationists does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: Infinitely many. Each one builds a fully validated model, but the light actually never goes on.

Q: How many topologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It really doesn’t matter, since they’d rather knot.

Q: How many topologists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Just one. But what will you do with the doughnut?

Q: How many professors does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: One. With eight research students, two programmers, three post-docs and a secretary to help him.

Q: How many university lecturers does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: Four. One to do it and three to co-author the paper.

Q: How many graduate students does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: Only one. But it takes nine years.

Q: How many math department administrators does it take to replace a light bulb?
A: None. What was wrong with the old one?

Q: How many UC Berkeley students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Seventy-six. One to change the light bulb, fifty to protest the light bulb’s right not to change, and twenty-five to hold a counter-protest.

Q: How many UC Davis students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Davis doesn’t have electricity.

Q: How many UC Irvine students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Irvine looks better in the dark.

Q: How many UC Riverside students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. See UC Irvine.

Q: How many UCLA students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. He just holds the bulb and lets the world revolve around him.

Q: How many UC San Francisco students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to change the light bulb and one to crack under the pressure.

Q: How many UC San Diego students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to mix the margaritas and one to call the electrician.

Q: How many UC Santa Barbara students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but he gets six credits for it.

Q: How many UC Santa Cruz students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Eleven. One to change the lightbulb and ten to share the experience.

Seasons greetings

Q: How does a mathematician wish you a merry Christmas?
A: Like this:

Q: How does an engineer wish you a merry Christmas?
A: Like this:

(Click to enlarge.)

Q: Why do computer scientists confuse Christmas and Halloween?
A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25.

Q: How is an artificial christmas tree like the fourth root of -68?
A: Neither has real roots.

What do you get when you cross…?

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a banana?
A: Elephant banana sine(theta) in a direction mutually perpendicular to
the elephant and banana as determined by the right hand rule.

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a mountain climber.
A: You can’t do that. A mountain climber is a scaler.

Q: What do you get when you cross a mosquito with a mountain climber?
A: You can’t cross a vector with a scaler.

(Vector: an organism, such as an insect, that transmits a pathogen.)

Q: What do you get when you cross a mountain goat and a mountain climber?
A: Nothing. You can’t cross two scalars.

The following two aren’t mathematical, but they fit the theme and are personal favorites.

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhinoceros?
A: Elephino!

Q: What did Hannibal get when he crossed the Himalayas with elephants?
A: A mountain range that never forgets.


  • Two-thirds of a Pun
  • Algebra is x-sighting.
  • Complex numbers are unreal.
  • Decimals make a point.
  • Einstein was ahead of his time.
  • Doing geometry keeps you in shape.
  • I like angles… to a degree.
  • I could go on and on about sequences.
  • I’ll do algebra, I’ll do trig, and I’ll even do statistics, but graphing is where I draw the line!
  • I’m partial to fractions.
  • I feel positive about natural numbers.
  • Lobachevski was out of line.
  • On average, people are mean.
  • Translations are shifty.
  • Vectors can be ‘arrowing.
  • Without geometry, life would be pointless.
  • Alcohol and calculus don’t mix. Never drink and derive.
  • A math professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.
  • Analysts use epsilons and deltas in mathematics because they tend to make errors.
  • Asked how his pet parrot died, the mathematician answered “Polynomial. Polygon.”
  • A professor’s enthusiasm for teaching precalculus varies inversely with the likelihood of his having to do it.
  • A tragedy of mathematics is a beautiful conjecture ruined by an ugly fact.
  • Classification of mathematical problems as linear and nonlinear is like classification of the Universe as bananas and non-bananas.
  • Every proof is a one-line proof, provided you start sufficiently far to the left.
  • For a good prime call, 555.793.7319.
  • God is real, unless proclaimed an integer.
  • Graphing rational functions is a pain in the asymptote.
  • He thinks he’s really smooth, but he’s only C1.
  • How many problems will you have on the final? I think you will have lots of problems on the final.
  • If Einstein and Pythagoras were both right, then E = m(a2+b2)
  • I’ll do algebra, I’ll do trig, and I’ll even do statistics, but graphing is where I draw the line!
  • In the topologic hell the beer is packed in Klein’s bottles.
  • Klein bottle for rent. Apply within.
  • Life is complex. It has real and imaginary parts.
  • …..And the irrational parts infinitely outweigh the rational ones.
  • Math: putting the “fun” in “functions” since t=0.
  • Math is like love; a simple idea, but it can get complicated.
  • Math problems? Call 1-800-[4-x(2 pi)2]-sin(b)/xy.
  • Mathematics is made of 50 percent formulas, 50 percent proofs, and 50 percent imagination.
  • Mobius strip no-wear belt drive! (Please see other side for warranty details.)
  • Moebius strippers only show you their back side.
  • My geometry teacher was sometimes acute, and sometimes obtuse, but always, he was right.
  • Parallel lines never meet, unless you bend one or both of them.
  • Pie are squared?
  • No. Pie are not squared. Pie are round. Cornbread are squared.
  • Recursion [ri-kur’zhun] n. See recursion.
  • Sex is like math. Add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the legs, and pray to God you don’t multiply.
  • Statistics are like a bikini: what they show you is tempting, but it’s what they hide that’s important.
  • The highest moments in the life of a mathematician are the first few moments after one has proved the result, but before one finds the mistake.
  • The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90 degrees and try again.
  • The problems for the exam will be similar to the discussed in the class. Of course, the numbers will be different. But not all of them. Pi will still be 3.14159…
  • The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it is cheaper to do this than to institutionalize all those people.
  • These days, even the most pure and abstract mathematics is in danger to be applied.
  • The world is everywhere dense with idiots.
  • To a mathematician, real life is a special case.
  • 1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.
  • 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions.
  • 97.3% of all statistics are made up.
  • Dear Math, please grow up and solve your own problems, I’m tired of solving them for you.
  • Dear Algebra, Please stop asking us to find your X. She’s never coming back, and don’t ask Y.I strongly dislike the subject of math, however I am partial to fractions.
  • Zenophobia is the irrational fear of convergent sequences.
  • Logic is a systematic method for getting the wrong conclusion… with confidence.
  • Statistics is a systematic method for getting the wrong conclusion… with 95% confidence.


a decimal point I’m a dot in place
decimal point I’m a pencil dot
logarithm algorithm
a number line innumerable
integral calculus calculating rules
algebra a garble
calculation I call a count
higher mathematics ahh! arithmetic gems
inconsistent n is, n is not, etc.
negation get a “no” in
pocket calculators clack! total up score
the answer wasn’t here
school master the classroom
listen silent
committees cost me time
incomprehensible problem in Chinese
eleven plus two twelve plus one
math research harms teacher

Blonde homework

Category Theory

  • There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t. [1]
  • There are two groups of people in the world: those who believe that the world can be divided into two groups of people, and those who don’t.
  • There are two groups of people in the world: those who can be categorized into one of two groups of people, and those who can’t.
  • There are two groups of people in the world: those that don’t do math, and those that take care of them.
  • There are three kinds of people in the world: them that aren’t good at math and them that aren’t goof at English.
  • There are 10 groups of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
  • There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand trinary, those who don’t, and those who mistake it for binary.
  • There are two types of people in the world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.


[1] George Carlin.

Collective names 

In the sciences:

  • A pile of nuclear physicists
  • A grid of electrical engineers
  • A set of pure mathematicians
  • A field of theoretical physicists
  • An amalgamation of metallurgists
  • A line of spectroscopes
  • A coagulation of colloid chemists
  • A galaxy of cosmologists
  • A cloud of theoretical meteorologists
  • A shower of applied meteorologists
  • A litter of geneticists
  • A knot of nautical engineers
  • A labyrinth of communications engineers
  • An exhibition of Nobel prize winners
  • An intrigue of council members
  • A dissonance of faculty members
  • A stack of librarians
  • A chain of security officers
  • A complex of psychologists
  • A wing of ornithologists
  • A batch of fermentation chemists
  • A colony of bacteriologists

(c) The Journal of Irreproducible Results 14, 4 (1965).

Lesser known mathematical theorems

  • The Fundamental Theorem of Analysis: Any theorem of analysis can be proven on an arbitrarily small piece of paper provided the author is sufficiently vague.
  • The Fundamental Theorem of Teaching Mathematics: You must tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth.
  • The Fundamental Theorem of Proof: Never trust any result that was proved after 11 pm.
  • Grabel’s Law: 2 is not equal to 3. Not even for very large values of 2.
  • Hofstadter’s Law:  It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
  • The law of conservation of difficulties: There is no easy way to prove a deep result.

Old mathematicians never die

  • Old mathematicians never die, they just lose some of their functions. [1]
  • Old mathematicians never die, they just lose their identities.
  • Old mathematicians never die, they just tend to zero.
  • Old mathematicians never die, they just decay.
  • Old mathematicians never die, they just dis-solve.
  • Old analysts never die, they just dis-integrate.
  • Old geometers never die, they just go off on a tangent.
  • Old geometers never die, they just dis-figure.
  • Old geometers do die… but they become angles.
  • Old numerical analysts never die, they just get disarrayed.
  • Old statisticians never die, they’re just broken down by age and sex.


[1] John C. George said this, and is credited for starting this type of math joke.

Nonstandard measurements

  • 10-15 bismols: 1 femto-bismol
  • 10-12 boos: 1 picoboo
  • 1 boo2: 1 boo-boo
  • 10-18 boys: 1 attoboy
  • 1012 bulls: 1 terabull
  • 101 cards: 1 decacards
  • 10-9 goats: 1 nanogoat
  • 2 gorics: 1 paregoric
  • 10-3 ink machines: 1 millink machine
  • 109 los: 1 gigalos
  • 10-1 mate: 1 decimate
  • 10-2 mentals: 1 centimental
  • 10-2 pedes: 1 centipede
  • 106 phone: 1 megaphone
  • 10-6 phones: 1 microphone
  • 1012 pins: 1 terapin

— (c) Philip A. Simpson. The NBS Standard, No. 15, January 1970

  • Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
  • Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
  • Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
  • Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line
  • Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond
  • Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour: Knot-furlong
  • Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
  • 1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche
  • 1 millionth of a mouthwash: 1 microscope
  • 1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
  • 1 unit of suspense in an Agatha Christie novel: 1 whod unit
  • 2 monograms: 1 diagram
  • 2 wharves: 1 paradox
  • 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V.
  • League
  • 3 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League
  • 8 nickels: 2 paradigms
  • 10 rations: 1 decoration
  • 100 rations: 1 C-ration
  • 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone: 1 Rod Serling
  • 52 cards: 1 decacards
  • 365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer because it’s less filling: 1 lite year
  • 453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake
  • 1000 aches: 1 kilohurtz
  • 1000 cubic centimeters of wet socks: 1 literhosen
  • 2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds
  • 2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
  • 1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles
  • 1 million microphones: 1 megaphone
  • 1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
  • 100 Senators: Not 1 decision

Physics party

  • Everyone gravitated toward Newton, but he just kept moving around at a constant velocity and showed no reaction.
  • Einstein thought it was a relatively good time.
  • Coulomb got a real charge out of the whole thing.
  • Cavendish wasn’t invited, but he had the balls to show up anyway.
  • Cauchy, being the only mathematician there, still managed to integrate well with everyone.
  • Thompson enjoyed the plum pudding.
  • Pauli came late, but was mostly excluded from things, so he split.
  • Pascal was under too much pressure to enjoy himself.
  • Ohm spent most of the time resisting Ampere’s opinions on current events.
  • Hamilton went to the buffet tables exactly once.
  • Volt thought the social had a lot of potential.
  • Hilbert was pretty spaced out for most of it.
  • Heisenberg may or may not have been there.
  • The Curies were there and just glowed the whole time.
  • van der Waals forced himeself to mingle.
  • Wien radiated a colourful personality.
  • Millikan dropped his Italian oil dressing.
  • de Broglie mostly just stood in the corner and waved.
  • Hollerith liked the hole idea.
  • Stefan and Boltzman got into some hot debates.
  • Everyone was attracted to Tesla’s magnetic personality.
  • Compton was a little scatter-brained at times.
  • Bohr ate too much and got atomic ache.
  • Watt turned out to be a powerful speaker.
  • Hertz went back to the buffet table several times a minute.
  • Faraday had quite a capacity for food.
  • Oppenheimer got bombed.

Reasons for not doing your homework

  • I accidentally divided by zero and my paper burst into flames.
  • I have the proof, but there isn’t room to write it in this margin.
  • I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook. I couldn’t actually reach it.
  • I was watching the World Series and got tied up trying to prove that it converged.
  • I couldn’t figure out whether i am the square of negative one or i is the square root of negative one.
  • I locked the paper in my trunk but a four-dimensional dog got in and ate it.
  • I took time out to snack on a doughnut and a cup of coffee. I spent the rest of the night trying to figure which one to dunk.
  • I could have sworn I put the homework inside a Klein bottle, but this morning I couldn’t find it.
  • I’ve included a reference to the solutions manual, reducing this assignment to one previously solved.
  • I had too much π and got sick.

Reasons π is better than e

  • e is less challenging to spell than π.
  • The character for e is so cheap that it can be found on a keyboard. But π is special (it’s under “special symbols” in word processor programs.)
  • e has an easy limit definition and infinite series. The limit definition of π and the infinite series are much harder.
  • You understand what e is even though you start learning it late when you’re in pre-calculus. But π, even after five or six years it’s still hard to know what it really is.
  • People mistakenly confuse Euler’s Number (e) with Euler’s Constant (denoted by γ). There is no confusion with the one and only π.
  • e is named after a person, but π stands for itself.
  • π is much shorter and easier to say than “Euler’s Number”.
  • To read π, you don’t have to know that Euler’s name is really pronounced Oiler.

Reasons e is better than π

  • e is easier to spell than π.
  • The character for e can be found on a keyboard, but π sure can’t.
  • Everybody fights for their piece of the π.
  • ln(π) is a really nasty number, but ln(e) = 1.
  • e is used in calculus while π is used in baby geometry.
  • e‘ is the most commonly used letter in the English alphabet.
  • e stands for Euler’s Number, π doesn’t stand for squat.
  • You don’t need to know Greek to be able to use e.
  • You can’t confuse e with a food product.

Tom Swifties

  • “6 is a special number,” Tom said perfectly.
  • Remove the braces,” remarked Tom parenthetically.
  • “If p, then q,” implied Tom.
  • “The concavity changes here,” said Tom with inflection.
  • “It is three meters long,” ruled Tom.
  • “Square root of 2 is not equal to a fraction!” Tom yelled irrationally.
  • “They are mirror images,” reflected Tom.
  • “Repeating decimals do not end,” remarked Tom in his infinite wisdom.
  • “This is a function,” related Tom.
  • “1/2 is a fraction,” said Tom properly.
  • “It is a vector,” directed Tom.
  • “3 = 11 in mod 2,” noted Tom basely.
  • “It touches the circle just once,” noted Tom tangentially.
  • b2 – 4ac = 0,” discriminated Tom.
  • “I don’t know what (b2 – 4ac) equals and I don’t care!” said Tom indiscriminately.
  • “Space is an infinite set of points,” Tom said distantly.
  • “1… 3… 5… 7…” Tom said oddly.
  • “It must be a convex quadrilateral,” figured Tom.
  • “1 = 1,” Tom stated absolutely.
  • “99 is almost 100,” said Tom roughly.
  • “The function ez is holomorphic,” Tom analyzed.
  • “It’s a plane figure,” Tom said flatly.
  • “Proofs are necessary,” reasoned Tom.
  • “I hate quizzes,” Tom stated testily.
  • “It’s not the y-axis, it’s not the y-axis, it’s not the y-axis,” Tom said inordinately.
  • “The decimal expansion of 1/3 is .3333333….,” repeated Tom.
  • “ex may be written as 1 + x/1! + x2/2! + x3/3! + …,” expanded Tom.

Weapons of math instruction

At New York’s Kennedy Airport today, an individual was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,” Ashcroft said. “They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like ‘x’ and ‘y’ and refer to themselves as ‘unknowns’, but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are three sides to every triangle,” Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes. I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from those who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line.” President Bush warned, “These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a higher power and begin to factor in random facts of vertex.”

Attorney General Ashcroft said, “Read my ellipse. Their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks.”

Yo mama…

  • Yo mama’s so fat, she took geometry in high school just cause she heard there was gonna be some pi.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, the ratio of the circumference to her diameter is four.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, her derivative is strictly positive.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, in a love triangle, she’d be the hypotenuse.
  • Yo mama’s so stupid, when I told her “pi-r-squared” and she said no, pi are round.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, the series of her ass from 0 to infinity fails the divergence test.
  • Yo mama’s so mean, she got no standard deviation.
  • Yo mama’s so ugly, Pythagoras wouldn’t touch her with a 3-4-5 triangle.
  • Yo mama’s so square, she’s got imaginary numbers on her social security card.
  • Yo mama’s so slutty, that she asked all the math majors to to figure out g(f(your mom)) just so they could “f” her first.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, her ass is an improper integral.
  • The only way to get from point A to point B is around yo mama’s fat ass.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, she expresses her weight in scientific notation.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, scientists track her position by observing anomalies in Pluto’s orbit.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, a recursive function computing her weight causes a stack overflow.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, the long double numeric variable type in C++ is insufficient to express her weight.
  • Yo mama so fat, THX can’t even surround her.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, she’s a convenient proof that the universe is still expanding exponentially.
  • Yo mama’s so slow, she can be emulated on a 286.
  • Yo mama’s like a converging lens: she’s wider in the middle than she is on either end.
  • Yo mama’s so slutty, even the noble gases are attracted to her.
  • Yo mama’s so slutty, electrons have a positive charge when they’re around her.
  • Yo mama’s so stupid, her exchange particle is a “moron”.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, she doesn’t just have a low center of gravity, she has an elliptical orbit.
  • Yo mama’s so fat, IEEE is working on a wifi protocol so people can get the signals to reach users on opposite sides of her. It’s called 802.11 Draft Fat Momma
  • If we were to code your mom in a C++ function she would look like this:
    double mom (double fat){ mom(fat);return mom;}; 
    //your mom is recursively fat.
  • Yo mama’s so old, she goes on carbon dates.