Let ε < 0.


Poetic wisdom

Filed under: Quotes, Urban legends — Travis @

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)

My thanks to Jason Lee, who compiled many of these.


What is a mathematician?

Filed under: Quotes, Urban legends — Travis @

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) 1

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)

God geometrizes. (Pluto)

Tai Melcher suggested including this quote. Quoth she, “Maybe if they’re scared of us, they won’t laugh at us anymore. Or at least not as loudly.”


Famously amusing quotation

Filed under: Quotes, Urban legends — Travis @

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 worthwile 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)


The missing dollar

Filed under: Riddles — Travis @

This isn’t a joke; rather it’s an interesting problem.

Three mathematicians went to a convention. They needed a room, but all the hotels were full. They finally found a motel that had a vacancy. They told the Innkeeper they needed rooms. The Innkeeper said “I’ve only got one room left.”

The three mathematicians said “We’ll take it.”

“That’ll be $30.00.”

The mathematicians each pulled out 10 $1 bills; they handed to collected $30 to the Innkeeper and went to their room.

After a while, the Innkeeper thought to himself “I’ve overcharged those three men. I should give them a discount for having to share one room.” He called the bellboy over and told him: “Take this money to room 303 and tell the three men there I’m giving them a discount for having to share a room.” He handed the bellboy five one dollar bills.

The bellboy took off to the three men’s room. On the way, he thought, How are three men going to split $5? I can help them out by giving them just three dollars. So, in the spirit of altruism (obviously) the bellboy quietly pocketed two of the dollar bills. When he got to the room, he rang the bell and when one of the mathematicians answered, he said “The Innkeeper said to tell you he is sorry for the inconvenience, and offers this refund for your hardship.”

He then handed the man three one dollar bills and left. The mathematician gave a dollar to each of his companions, and the three went to sleep.

So what’s the problem?

Since each of the mathematicians received $1 back from the bellboy, each man paid only $9 apiece for the room. That is, they paid only $27 for the room. The bellboy has $2 in his pocket. This accounts for $29 of the original $30 paid.

What happened to the missing dollar?


Holy crap! A talking atom!

Filed under: Goofy graphs, Science humor, Walks into a bar — Travis @

I think I actually did this joke already!


Office hell

Filed under: Goofy graphs — Travis @



Filed under: Goofy graphs — Travis @

Spied on a blackboard…

Spied on a bathroom stall…

Spied on another bathroom stall…


When cheat sheets go bad

Filed under: Goofy graphs — Travis @

This is an actual cheat sheet a student once used on one of my calculus exams:

P.S. The owner of this cheat-sheet, who later told me he spent all of his study time figuring out how to cram all this stuff on a 3×5 card rather than actually studying what it said, got a 13% on the exam.


The analysis instructor, as seen by the student

Filed under: Goofy graphs — Travis @

Thanks to Evan Waddel, who made me this (presumably about me), and to Melody Doff for showing it to me.


Textbook truth

Filed under: Goofy graphs — Travis @

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