Let ε < 0.


Back in the saddle…

Filed under: Meta — Travis @

Sorry for the long delay in posting here, but I was on summer vacation, after all.


Tell a joke!

Filed under: Meta — Travis @

Hey! Do you have a joke you’d like to add? Tell it to the comments, and if it fits the theme of the site, it’ll get posted on the front page!

About the site

Filed under: Meta — Travis @

Welcome to “Let ε < 0," a site dedicated to mathematical funny business, flimflam, fallacies, and feghoots. I've done my best to collect and disseminate those bits of mathematical, scientific, and academic humor that I've come across. If you've got one you'd like to include, feel free to share!

In the spirit of academic honesty, I should point out that almost nothing here is original, and much of it has been circulated across the world wide web. However, when I can find a citation, I do my best to include it.

The blog’s name, by the way, comes from a classic joke from real analysis:

Q: What’s the shortest mathematical joke?
A: “Let ε < 0."

With that said, enjoy the silliness.



Filed under: Meta — Travis @

When considering the behavior of a howitzer,

  • A mathematician will be able to calculate where the shell will land.
  • A physicist will be able to explain how the shell gets there.
  • An engineer will stand there and try to catch it.


Improving livestock

Filed under: Animal farm, Diff'rent strokes, Meta — Travis @

Cow version

The USDA once wanted to make cows produce milk faster, to improve the dairy industry.

First, they decided to consult the foremost biologists and recombinant DNA technicians to build them a better cow. They assembled this team of great scientists, and gave them unlimited funding. They requested rare chemicals, weird bacteria, tons of quarantine equipment, there was a horrible typhus epidemic they started by accident, and, 2 years later, they came back with the “new, improved cow.” It had a milk production improvement of 2% over the original.

They then tried with the greatest Nobel Prize winning chemists around. They worked for six months, and, after requisitioning tons of chemical equipment, and poisoning half the small town in Colorado where they were working with a toxic cloud from one of their experiments, they got a 5% improvement in milk output.

Finally, in desperation, they turned to the mathematicians. The foremost mathematician of his time offered to help them with the problem. Upon hearing the problem, he told the delegation that they could come back in the morning and he would have solved the problem. In the morning, they came back, and he handed them a piece of paper with the computations for the new, 300% improved milk cow.

The plans began:

A Proof of the Attainability of Increased Milk Output from Bovines:

Consider a spherical cow…

Horse version

An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician went to the races one Saturday and laid their money down.

Commiserating in the bar after the race, the engineer says, “I don’t understand why I lost all my money. I measured all the horses and calculated their strength and mechanical advantage and figured out how fast they could run…”

The physicist interrupted him: “…but you didn’t take individual variations into account. I did a statistical analysis of their previous performances and bet on the horses with the highest probability of winning…”

“…so if you’re so hot why are you broke?” asked the engineer. But before the argument can grow, the mathematician takes out his pipe and they get a glimpse of his well-fattened wallet. Obviously here was a man who knows something about horses. They both demanded to know his secret.

“Well,” he says, between puffs on the pipe, “first I assumed all the horses were identical and spherical…”



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!”

“Why?” the students ask.

“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…”


Welcome to Let ε < 0

Filed under: Meta — Travis @

Welcome to Let ε < 0, a site dedicated to mathematical funny business, flimflam, fallacies, and feghoots. The blog’s name, of course, comes from a classic joke from real analysis:

Q: What’s the shortest mathematical joke?
A: “Let ε < 0."

With that said, enjoy the silliness.

Powered by WordPress