# Let ε < 0.

## 11.20.08

### The hot-air balloon

Filed under: Lower-division jokes — Travis @

Three men are in a hot-air balloon. Soon, they find themselves lost in a canyon somewhere. One of the three men says, “I’ve got an idea. We can call for help in this canyon and the echo will carry our voices far.” So he leans over the basket and yells out, “Helllloooooo! Where are we?” They hear the echo several times.

15 minutes later, they hear this echoing voice: “Helllloooooo! You’re in a balloon!!”

One of the men says, “That must have been a mathematician.”

Puzzled, one of the other men asks, “Why do you say that?”

“For three reasons: (1) he took a long time to answer, (2) he was absolutely correct, and (3) his answer was absolutely useless.”

## 11.19.08

### Optimization

Filed under: Meta — Travis @

At the end of his course on mathematical methods in optimization, the professor sternly looks at his students and says: “There is one final piece of advice I’m going to give you now: Whatever you have learned in my course, never ever try to apply it to your personal lives!”

“Well, some years ago, I observed my wife preparing breakfast, and I noticed that she wasted a lot of time walking back and forth in the kitchen. So, I went to work, optimized the whole procedure, and told my wife about it.”

“And what happened?!”

“Before I applied my expert knowledge, my wife needed about half an hour to prepare breakfast for the two of us. And now, it takes me less than fifteen minutes…”

## 11.18.08

### Hide and seek

Filed under: Puns, Science humor — Travis @

Newton, Gauss, Einstein and Pascal were playing Hide-and-Seek, and it was Einstein’s turn to count. As Einstein counted to twenty, the other three went to hide. Gauss hid himself behind the couch, while Pascal hid himself behind the door. Newton couldn’t find a good place do hide, so he drew a 1-meter-by-1-meter square at the floor and stood in the middle of it until Einstein finished counting. Immediately Einstein noticed Newton standing in the center of the room, so he shouts out “I found Newton!”

Newton looks at Einstein and says “I’m not Newton! I’m Pascal!”

If you missed the punchline, check the comments.

## 11.17.08

### Helluva engineer

Filed under: Diff'rent strokes, Lower-division jokes — Travis @

Mathematicians tend to kid engineers mercilessly. Here is a joke in which they shine. It will be the only time ths happens in this blog.

An engineer dies and reports to the Pearly Gates at Heaven. Saint Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an engineer… you’re in the wrong place.” So the engineer instead reports to the Infernal Gates of Hell and is let in.

Pretty soon, the engineer finds he’s dissatisfied with the level of comfort in Hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, Hell has got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls the Devil up on the telephone and, in the spirit of a good-natured jibe, askes “So, how’s it going down there?”

The Devil smirks. “Things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”

“What?” asks God with a start. “How’d you get an engineer? That’s a mistake: he should never have gotten down there. Send him up here.”

“No way,” sneers the Devil. “I like having an engineer on the staff. I think I’m gonna keep him.”

“Send him back up here,” roars God and, with all his righteous rage, adds “or I’ll sue!”

“Oh really?” asks the Devil coyly. “And just where are you going to get a lawyer?”

## 11.16.08

### The frog princess

Filed under: Dirty, Lower-division jokes — Travis @

A man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will tell everyone how smart and brave you are and how you are my hero.” The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will be your loving companion for an entire week.” The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to his pocket.

The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for a year and do anything you want.” Again the man took the frog out, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, that I’ll stay with you for a year and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”

The man smiled at the frog. “I’m a mathematics grad student. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is pretty cool.”

## 11.15.08

### The first derivative test

Filed under: Puns, Upper-division jokes — Travis @

In the land of calculus, derivatives often like to keep their functions as pets. All of the derivatives for a function over an interval live together as a derivative family. Unfortunately, their pet function has a problem: it keeps growing and growing and eating all the food in the derivative household.

Concerned, the derivatives take their pet function to the vet to see what is wrong. When the vet asks what’s wrong with the function, the derivatives descibe in detail how their function will not stop increasing.

“This is serious,” replies the vet sternly. “Before we go any further, are you sure that your function is increasing?”

This was anonymously posted outside my office door one day.

## 11.14.08

### Fermat’s last feghoot

Filed under: Feghoots, Lower-division jokes — Travis @

A husband is beginning to worry that the passion has gone out of his marriage. He starts going secretly to a marriage counselor in order to find ways to spice up his marriage and satisfy his wife. The counselor listens, and instructs him to get a bear-skin rug for his living room.

The husband goes right our and buys the biggest bear-skin rug that he can find. He takes it home and drapes it across the hardwood floor. As soon as his wife came home from work, she spied the rug and suddenly grabbed her husband’s hand, took him upstairs, and treated him to the wildest night of passion they’d had since they were both teenagers.

The next day, the husband, truly greatful, returned to the counselor to say thanks. “By the way, how did you know that the bear-skin rug would do the trick?”

“Simple mathematics,” replied the counselor. “It’s Fur Mats Lust Theorem.”

## 11.13.08

### F = – m a

Filed under: Science humor, Upper-division jokes — Travis @

A promising PhD candidate was presenting his thesis at his final examination, in front of his supervising professor, fellow physicists, and a mathematian. He proceeded with a derivation and ended up with like: F = -m a.

Embarassed, the student coughed nervously and said, “I seem to have made a slight error back there somewhere.”

The mathematician replied, “Either that or an odd number of them.”

## 11.12.08

### The ex joke

Filed under: Upper-division jokes — Travis @

This has always been one of my favorite math jokes. There are other versions of it, but I’ve never thought they worked as well as this particular one… so I’m not going to include any of the others. You like a different version better? Get your own website.

The cocky exponential function ex is strolling along the road insulting the functions he sees walking by. He scoffs at a wandering polynomial for the shortness of its Taylor series. He snickers at a passing smooth function of compact support and its glaring lack of a convergent power series about many of its points. He positively laughs as he passes |x| for being nondifferentiable at the origin. He smiles, thinking to himself, “Damn, it’s great to be ex. I’m real analytic everywhere. I’m my own derivative. I blow up faster than anybody and shrink faster too. All the other functions suck.”

Lost in his own egomania, he collides with the constant function 3, who is running in terror in the opposite direction.

“What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you look where you’re going?” demands ex. He then sees the fear in 3’s eyes and says “You look terrified!”

“I am!” says the panicky 3. “There’s a differential operator just around the corner. If he differentiates me, I’ll be reduced to nothing! I’ve got to get away!” With that, 3 continues to dash off.

“Stupid constant,” thinks ex. “I’ve got nothing to fear from a differential operator. He can keep differentiating me as long as he wants, and I’ll still be there.”

So he scouts off to find the operator and gloat in his smooth glory. He rounds the corner and defiantly introduces himself to the operator. “Hi. I’m ex.”

“Hi. I’m d / dy.”

## 11.11.08

### Einstein in heaven

Filed under: Diff'rent strokes, Lower-division jokes — Travis @

Einstein dies and goes to heaven only to be informed that his room is not yet ready. “I hope you will not mind waiting in a dormitory. We are very sorry, but it’s the best we can do and you will have to share the room with others,” he is told by Peter. Einstein says that this is no problem at all and that there is no need to make such a great fuss.

So Pete leads him to the dorm. They enter and Albert is introduced to all of the present inhabitants. “See, Here is your first room mate. He has an IQ of 180!”

“Why that’s wonderful!” Says Albert. “We can discuss mathematics!”

“And here is your second room mate. His IQ is 150!”

“Why that’s wonderful!” Says Albert. “We can discuss physics!”

“And here is your third room mate. His IQ is 100!”

“That’s wonderful! We can discuss the latest plays at the theater!”

Just then another man moves out to capture Albert’s hand and shake it. “I’m your last room mate and I’m sorry, but my IQ is only 80.”

Albert smiles back at him and says, “So, where to you think interest rates are headed?”