1) Math jokes

Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

Mrs. Johnson the elementary school math teacher was having children do problems on the blackboard that day.

“Who would like to do the first problem, addition?”

No one raised their hand. She called on Tommy, and with some help he finally got it right.

“Who would like to do the second problem, subtraction?”

Students hid their faces. She called on Mark, who got the problem but there was some suspicion his girlfriend Lisa whispered it to him.

“Who would like to do the third problem, division?”

Now a low collective groan could be heard as everyone looked at nothing in particular. The teacher called on Suzy, who got it right (she has been known to hold back sometimes in front of her friends).

“Who would like to do the last problem, multiplication?”

Tim’s hand shot up, surprising everyone in the room. Mrs. Johnson finally gained her composure in the stunned silence. “Why the enthusiasm, Tim?”

“‘Cause God said to go fourth and multiply!”

Air travel (I)

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.”

Air travel (II)

A bunch of Polish scientists decided to flee their repressive government by hijacking an airliner and forcing the pilot to fly them to a western country. They drove to the airport, forced their way on board a large passenger jet, and found there was no pilot on board. Terrified, they listened as the sirens got louder. Finally, one of the scientists suggested that since he was an experimentalist, he would try to fly the aircraft.

He sat down at the controls and tried to figure them out. The sirens got louder and louder. Armed men surrounded the jet. The would be pilot’s friends cried out, “Please, please take off now! Hurry!!”

The experimentalist calmly replied, “Have patience. I’m just a simple Pole in a complex plane.”

Air travel (III)

A group of Polish tourists is flying on a small airplane through the Grand Canyon on a sightseeing tour. The tour guide announces: “On the right of the airplane, you can see the famous Bright Angle Falls.” The tourists leap out of their seats and crowd to the windows on the right side. This causes a dynamic imbalance, and the plane violently rolls to the side and crashes into the canyon wall. All aboard are lost.

The moral to this story? Always keep your Poles off the right side of the plane.


“My life is all arithmetic,” the young businesswoman explains. “I try to add to my income, subtract from my weight, divide my time, and avoid multiplying.”

Boy’s Life Jokes

I (from Boy’s Life magazine, May 1973):

Ralph: Dad, will you do my math for me tonight?

Dad: No, son, it wouldn’t be right.

Ralph: Well, you could try.


Teacher: Ralph, if your father had 10 dollars and you asked him for six dollars, how many dollars would your father have left?

Ralph: Ten.

Teacher: You do not know your math.

Ralph: You do not know my father.

The brain transplant

A man decided to go to the brain transplant clinic to refresh his supply of brains. The secretary informed him that they had three kinds of brains available at that time. Doctors’ brains were going for $20 per ounce and lawyers’ brains were getting $30 per ounce. And then there were mathematicians’ brains which were currently fetching $1000 per ounce.

“A 1000 dollars an ounce!” he cried. “Why are they so expensive?”

“It takes more mathematicians to get an ounce of brains.”

Catholic arithmetic

A father is very much concerned about his young son Billy’s bad grades in math. In desperation, he decides to register Billy at a catholic school. After his first term there, Billy brings home his report card. And, lo and behold, he’s getting A’s in math.

The father is, of course, pleased, but wants to know: “Why are your math grades suddenly so good?”

Billy’s face goes a little white, and he replies, “when I walked into the classroom the first day, and I saw that guy on the wall nailed to a plus sign, I knew one thing: this place means business!”

Clinical test

A new pharmaceutical company has just released its findings on a proprosed vaccine for the common cold:

“Our testing showed that 67% of the mice injected with the vaccine showed improvement over the course of treatment. The other mouse died.”


Two mathematicians are looking at an infinite sum scrawled on a blackboard. After staring at it for a while, they both agree that the series does, in fact, coverage. Staring at it a little longer, the first one says, “Do you realize that the series still converges even when all the terms are made positive?”

The second asks, “Are you sure about that?”


The copy machine

A mathematician, down on his luck, takes a job as a photocopier repairman. After his first day on the job, receives an irate call from one of his customers.

“The copy machine is still broken! It prints out each of my memos on a loop of paper with a half twist! What did I do?”

“Ah,” says the mathematician. “You must have set it to Single Sided Copy.”


At a large mathematical conference, a young mathematician is demonstrating his first new result to a gaggle of respected mathematicians.

When he concludes its proof, someone in the audience interrupts him: “That proof must be wrong — I have two counterexamples to your theorem.”

The young mathematician shrugs. “That’s okay. I have three other proofs of it.”

Counting sheep

A farmer was showing a mathematician around his fields. Frustrated by his endless demonstrations of cerebral aptitude, the farmer decided to teach him a lesson. He took the mathematician to a field that packed with hundreds of grazing sheep, all of them milling about and moving around.

“If you can guess the exact number of sheep in this field,” challenged the farmer, “I’ll give you all of them!”

The mathematician looked thoughtful for a moment, and his eyes darted back and forth rapidly. Presently he announced, “Two hundred and fourteen.”

The farmer gaped, too stunned to calculate his loss yet, “How on Earth did you do that? There’s no way you could have counted all those sheep that fast!”

“You’re absolutely right,” the mathematician agreed. “I counted all the legs, and then divided by four.”

The dean’s woes

Dean, to the Chair of the Physics Department: “Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff? Why couldn’t you be like the math department? All they need is money for pencils, paper and waste-paper baskets. Or even better, be like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”

The Dirac River

In the bayous of Louisiana, there is a small river called the Dirac. Many wealthy people have their mansions near its mouth. One of the social leaders decided to have a grand ball. Being a cousin of the Governor, she arranged for a detachment of the state militia to serve as guards and traffic directors for the big doings.

A captain was sent over with a small company; naturally he asked if there was enough room for him and his unit.

The social leader replied, “But of course, Captain! It is well known that the Dirac delta function has unit area.”

Einstein in heaven

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?”

The exponential joke (I)

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.”

False advertising

A mathematician gives a talk intended for a general audience. The talk is announced in the local newspaper, but he expects few people to show up because nobody who is not a mathematician will be able to make any sense of the title: Convex sets and inequalities.

To his surprise, the auditorium is crammed when his talk begins. After he has finished, someone in the audience raises his hand.

“But you said nothing about the actual topic of your talk!”

“What topic to you mean?”

“Well, the one that was announced in the paper: Convicts, sex, and inequality.”

Fermat’s Last Pun

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 grateful, 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.”

First derivative test

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?”

The derivatives reply, “We’re positive.”

Foreign policy I

The American President is meeting with his cabinet to discuss world events.

The Secretary of Defense reports, “Mr. President, there was a terrible battle in Iraq last night. Three Brazilian soldiers died.”

“That’s awful!” exclaims the President, and puts his head in his hands. After a moment of silence, he looks up at the Secretary and asks, “How many is a brazillian again?”

Foreign policy II

The American President visits Algeria. As part of his program, he delivers a speech to the Algerian people.

“Ya know, I regret to inform you that I’m gonna give this speech in English. I would have liked to talk to you all in yer native tongue, but I was never any good at algebra.”

Frog princess

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.”

Helluva engineer

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, asks “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?”

Hide and seek

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!”

Holy numbers

Young Irving grew up a devout believer in the biblical prophecies of his parents’ faith, and owing to a natural bent in mathematics, was particularly intrigued by the numerical aspects of those prophecies. At the age of seven he surprised his father by pointing out that there was

1 God,
2 testaments,
3 persons in the Trinity,
4 Gospels,
5 books of Moses,
6 days of creation, and
7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“What about 8?” his father asked.

“Well, 8 is the holiest of them all!” the boy replied. “The other numbers with holes are 0, 6, and 9, and sometimes 4, but 8 has two holes, and therefore is the holiest.”

This joke is told by Martin Gardner. Legend has it that it refers to Irving Joshua Bush, later known as Dr. Matrix.


Two hyperbolas were sitting on a plane.

The first hyperbola says to the other “I sure wish I could oscillate.”

The second one replies, “Holy crap! A talking hyperbola!”


A new Ph.D. in algebra gets a temporary position at a university for a year. He bumps into one of the faculty and, having the cockiness and arrogance of youth, says to him, “I have heard it said that all logicians go insane. Why then did you decide to study Model Theory?”

“My dear doctor, very few logicians go insane but the entire algebra faculty is seeing the psychiatrist,” replied the logician.

Thusly tempered, the young man replies uncertainly, “The entire faculty?”

“Yes, they’re all in group therapy.”


Billy needed to integrate the function 1/(1+x). Stumped, he glanced around the class, and saw that Amy, who always got things right, had written “log(1+x)”, so he copied the answer from her.

Of course, Billy was a sharp tack himself, so in order to prevent himself from being caught copying, he rewrote the answer as “timber(1+x)”.

Late night

A mathematician wandered home at 3 AM. His wife, quite naturally, became very upset. “You’re late!” she roared at him. “You said you’d be home by 11:45!”

“No, no, no… I’m right on time,” said the mathematician, looking at his watch. “I said I’d be home by a quarter of twelve.”

The lottery

The mathematics department at university held a raffle. The tickets were a little pricey at $10 each, but the prize was tantalizing: an infinite amount of money paid to the winner for an infinite amount of time. With such a prize on the line, the tickets sold like hotcakes, and the department soon raised thousands of dollars.

When the winner was announced, he gleefully came down to the department office to claim his prize. He found the department head, and asked that he receive his winnings. The department head congratulated the man, and happily pulled out a $1 bill and handed it to the winner.

“What’s this?” demanded the winner. “You promised me an infinite amount of money over an infinite amount of time!”

“Oh, yes, this is just the first installment,” replied the mathematican happily. “Next week you’ll get 1/2 a dollar, and the week after that 1/3, and the week after that 1/4…”

The make-up test

Four friends have been doing really well in their calculus class: they have been getting top grades for their homework and on the midterm. So, when it’s time for the final, they decide not to study on the weekend before, but to drive to another friend’s birthday in another city — even though the exam is scheduled for Monday morning. As it happens, they drink too much at the party, and on Monday morning, they are all hung over and oversleep. When they finally arrive on campus, the exam is already over.

They go to the professor’s office and offer him an explanation: “We went to our friend’s birthday party, and when we were driving back home very early on Monday morning, we suddenly had a flat tire. We had no spare one, and since we were driving on backroads, it took hours until we got help.”

The professor nods sympathetically and says: “I see that it was not your fault. I will allow you to make up for the missed exam tomorrow morning.”

When they arrive early on Tuesday morning, the students are put by the professor in a large lecture hall and are seated so far apart from each other that, even if they tried, they had no chance to cheat. The exam booklets are already in place, and confidently, the students start writing. The first question — five points out of one hundred — is a simple exercise in integration, and all four finish it within ten minutes. When the first of them has completed the problem, he turns over the page of the exam booklet and reads on the next one:

Problem 2 (95 points out of 100): Which tire went flat?

The math degree (I)

Brad recently got his Master’s Degree in mathematics from the MIT. Unfortunately, he was having some trouble finding a job (it’s tough to get a math job these days). He had already spent two months looking for a job. Running low on rent money, he decided to work in the Central Square McDonald’s on weekends and look for a job during the week.

After Brad handed in an employment application, the manager told that he wasn’t qualified.

“Not qualified? I’ve got a Master’s degree in Mathematics from MIT!” he said.

The McDonald’s manager shrugged. “All of our mathematicians have PhDs.”

The math degree (II)

A mathematics student had just finished his Ph.D. in Princeton, and he was looking for jobs. After a year with no success, he finally landed a job with the zoo as a zookeeper. One day, the bear in the zoo died. The zoo was facing the same financial crisis as the universities, and so they could not afford to buy another bear. So they asked the student to dress up in a bear costume and pretend that he was a bear. The salary they offered was definitely an increase, and so he took this job. He was put into a cage, and with time he became very good at imitating a bear.

However, he had one worry. The bars between his cage and the next cage were loose. And in the next cage was a very ferocious looking lion. One day, his worst fears were realized, and the bar broke loose. The lion jumped through the bars, and ran up to the student. Extending his paw, the lion exclaimed, “Hi, I’m Phil, a physics major from Stanford.”

The math party (I)

All the functions go to a party. After some drinks and music, the party is really going, with one exception: ex is standing awkwardly by himself in a dark corner. After a while sin(x) notices this, and so he goes over to talk to his nonalgebraic buddy. “Hey ex,” says sin(x), “why don’t you come out here and mingle.”

“Mingle?” asks ex, suprised.

“Yeah, mingle!” says sin(x). “You know, get out there and integrate yourself!”

ex sighs heavily and asks, “What’s the point?”

The math party (II)

All the numbers go to a party and numbers, being what they are, disperse by parity: all the evens hang around each other and all the odds do the same, with neither group interacting much with each other. As 34 was chatting with 72 he notices 0 standing awkwardly by himself in a dark corner. “Hey 72,” says 34, “That 0 guy is even; let’s invite him over to hang with the even guys.”

72 agrees, so off go the two numbers invite 0 into their little group.

“Hey 0,” asks 34, “why don’t you come an talk with me and 72 and 16 and 22 over here?”

0 sighs heavily and replies, “Sorry. I have nothing to add.”

The math pill

A somewhat advanced society has figured how to package basic knowledge in pill form.

A student, needing some learning, goes to the pharmacy and asks what kind of knowledge pills are available. The pharmacist says “Here’s a pill for English literature.” The student takes the pill and swallows it and has new knowledge about English literature!

“What else do you have?” asks the student.

“Well, I have pills for art history, biology, and world history,” replies the pharmacist.

The student asks for these, and swallows them and has new knowledge about those subjects.

Then the student asks, “Do you have a pill for math?”

The pharmacist says “Wait just a moment”, and goes back into the storeroom and brings back a pill the size of a watermelon, and plunks it on the counter.

“I have to take that huge pill for math?” inquires the student.

The pharmacist replied “Well, you know math always was a little hard to swallow.”

Math saves!

A math professor was explaining a particularly complicated calculus concept to his class when a frustrated pre-med student interrupts him. “Why do we have to learn this stuff?” the pre-med blurts out.

The professor pauses, and answers matter-of-factly: “Because math saves lives.”

“How?” demanded the student. “How on Earth does calculus save lives?”

“Because,” replied the professor, “it keeps certain people out of medical school.”

A mathematician walks into a bar (quickies)

A French complex analyst walks into z-bar.

A bar walks into a commutative algebraist.

A dyslexic mathematician walks into a bra.

Three mathematicians walk into a bar.

You’d think the third one would have ducked.

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar.

The first orders a beer.

The second orders half a beer.

The third orders a quarter of a beer.

Before the next one can order, the bartender says, “You’re all assholes,” and pours two beers.

Rene Descartes walks into a bar.

The bartender approaches him and askes, “Ah, good evening Monsieur Descartes! Shall I serve you the usual drink?”

Descartes replies “I think not,” and promptly vanishes.

A definite integral walks and orders 10 shots of whiskey.

“You sure about that, buddy?” askes the bartender.

“Yeah,” says the integral. “I know my limits.”

An initial condition walks into a bar.

The barman says “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything.”

sin(x) walks into a bar.

The bartender says: “Get out. We don’t cater for functions.”

A sphere walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Get out. We don’t serve spheres here.”

The disgruntled sphere walks outside, but then gets an idea. He performs Dahn surgery upon himself, and walks back into the bar.

The bartender, who does not recognize him but thinks he looks familiar (or at least locally similar) and asks, “Aren’t you that sphere that just came in here?”

“No, I’m a frayed knot.”

Four fonts walk into a bar.

The barman says “Get out. We don’t want your type in here.”

Two polynomials walk into a bar.

The bartender, a derivative, asks them “Can I take you order?”

The polynomials run out screaming “Help! The bartender threatened to kill me!”

Two atoms walk out of a bar.

“Oh dear, I’ve left my electrons back in the bar,” say one.

“Are you sure?” asks the second.

“I’m positive.”

A neutron walks into a bar.

“How much for a beer?” he asks.

The barman says “For you? No charge.”

Two alpha particles and a gamma ray walk into a bar.

A mathematician walks into a bar (I)

A mathematician walks into a bar accompanied by a dog and a cow. The bartender says, “Hey, no animals are allowed in here.”

The mathematician replies, “These are very special animals.”

“How so?”

“They’re knot theorists.”

The bartender raises his eyebrows and says, “I’ve met a number of knot theorists who I thought were animals, but never an animal that was a knot theorist.”

“Well, I’ll prove it to you. Ask them them anything you like.”

So the bartender asks the dog, “Name a knot invariant.”

Arf! Arf!” barks the dog.

The bartender scowls and turns to the cow asking, “Name a topological invariant.”

Mu! Mu!” says the cow.

At this point the bartender turns to the mathematican and says, “Very funny.” With that, he throws the three out of the bar.

Outside, sitting on the curb, the dog turns to the mathematican and asks, “Do you think I should have said the Jones polynomial instead?”

FYI, the dog is referring to the Cahit Arf-invariant of knot theory, while the cow is referring to the Milnor mu-invariant of algebraic topology.

A mathematician walks into a bar (II)

Two mathematicians walk into in a bar. The first one says to the second that the average person knows very little about basic mathematics. The second one disagrees, and claims that most people can cope with a reasonable amount of math.

The first mathematician goes off to the washroom, and in his absence the second calls over the waitress. He tells her that in a few minutes, after his friend has returned, he will call her over and ask her a question. All she has to do is answer “one third x cubed.”

She repeats: “one thir — dex cue?”

He repeats “one third x cubed.”

“One… thir… dex… cuebd?”

“Yes, that’s right”, he says.

So she agrees, and goes off mumbling to herself, “one thir dex cuebd… one thir dex cuebd… one thir dex cuebd…”

The first guy returns and the second proposes a bet to prove his point, that most people do know something about basic math. He says he will ask the blonde waitress an integral, and the first laughingly agrees.

The second man calls over the waitress and asks “What is the integral of x squared?”

The waitress says “one third x cubed” and while walking away, turns back and adds with a wink “…plus a constant.”

A mathematician walks into a bar (III)

Two mathematicians walk into a bar

The first one says to the second that the average person knows very little about basic mathematics. The second one disagrees, and claims that most people can cope with a reasonable amount of math.

The second mathematician goes off to the washroom, and in his absence the first calls over the waitress.

He tells her that in a few minutes, after his friend has returned, he will call her over and ask her a question. All she has to do is answer “‘a‘ squared plus ‘b‘ squared.”

She repeats: “A square plus a bee square?”

He repeats “a squared plus b squared.”

“Ay squared plus bee squared?”

“Yes, that’s right”, he says.

So she agrees, and goes off mumbling to herself, “Ay squared plus bee squared… Ay squared plus bee squared… Ay squared plus bee squared…”

The second guy returns and the first proposes a bet to prove his point, that most people do know something about basic math. He says he will ask the blonde waitress a simple algebra question, and the second happily agrees.

The first man calls over the waitress and asks “What is (a+b)2?”

The waitress says “Ay squared plus bee squared” and while walking away, turns back and adds with a wink “…assuming a and b are anticommutative.”

A mathematician walks into a bar (Ω)

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer walk into a bar. The barman looks at the three and says, “Is this some kind of joke?”


Consider the set of all sets that have never been considered.

… Oh, dammit. Never mind.


A party of mathematicians was climbing in the Alps. After several hours they became hopelessly lost. One of them studied the map for some time, turning it up and down, sighting on distant landmarks, consulting his compass, and finally the sun. After thinking for a moment, he said, “Okay, see that big mountain over there?”

“Yes!” answered the others eagerly.

“Well, according to the map, we’re standing on top of it.”

The Neanderthal joke

A Neanderthal child rode to school with a boy from Hamilton.

When his mother found out she said, “What did I tell you? If you commute with a Hamiltonian you’ll never evolve!”

New York logic

A quiet little man was brought before a judge. The judge looked down at the man and then at the charges and then down at the little man in amazement. “Can you tell me in your own words what happened?” he asked the man.

“I’m a mathematical logician dealing in the nature of proof.”

“Yes, go on,” said the astounded judge.

“Well, I was at the library and I found the books I wanted and went to take them out. They told me my library card had expired and I had to get a new one. So I went to the registration office and got in another line. And filled out my forms for another card. And got back in line for my card.”

“And?” said the judge.

“And he asked ‘Can you prove you are from New York City?’”

“…And?” said the judge, exasperated.

“I stabbed him.”

Optimization problems

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…”

Pattern matching

A computer scientist is selected for a job in Texas because of his amazing pattern-matching abilities. As he’s driving through the Texan desert, he gets incredibly hungry.

So the guy finds a diner along this massive stretch of highway and stops there to eat. “I’ll have a plain cheeseburger,” he says to the waitress.

She returns with a massive burger, a foot across, dripping with lettuce and onions and the works. The computer scientist insists there is a mistake, but the waitress replies with a smile: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.”

So the guy eats the burger and finds he’s thirsty. “I’ll have a small Coke,” he says to the waitress.

She returns with a massive 80-ounce caraffe of carbonated soda. The computer scientist insists there is a mistake, but the waitress replies with a smile: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.”

So the guy drinks the drink, only to realize he needs to pee. Since he can’t find the waitress, he looks for clues: he follows some pipes along the ceiling down a hallway and out a door, where he falls into a swimming pool. In a pattern matching-panic with the words of the waitress ringing in his mind, he cries “Don’t flush! Don’t flush!”

Planck’s constant

During a physics lecture, the professor wrote the equation E = h v on the board. He then asked “What is v?”

“Planck’s constant.”

“Good. And what is h?”

“The length of the plank.”

Adapted from Physicists continue to laugh, MIR Publishing, Moscow 1968. Astonishingly, this is translated directly from the Russian version of the joke.

Prime time

The math faculty decided they got to too few first year students. So, they they made a television commercial to show had exciting mathematics can be. To get the biggest audience it was scheduled at prime time…

…2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 11 o’clock.


One day, Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like y = 3x2 + 8x – 9.”

A man who had just joined the disciples looked very confused and asked Peter: “What on Earth does he mean by that?”

Peter smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s just another one of his parabolas.”

The Pythagorean Theorem joke (I)

A tribe of Native Americans generally referred to their woman by the animal hide with which they made their blanket. Thus, one woman might be known as Squaw of Buffalo Hide, while another might be known as Squaw of Deer Hide. This tribe had a particularly large and strong woman, with a very unique (for North America anyway) animal hide for her blanket. This woman was known as Squaw of Hippopotamus hide, and she was as large and powerful as the animal from which her blanket was made.

Year after year, this woman entered the tribal wrestling tournament, and easily defeated all challengers; male or female. As the men of the tribe admired her strength and power, this made many of the other woman of the tribe extremely jealous. One year, two of the squaws petitioned the Chief to allow them to enter their sons together as a wrestling tandem in order to wrestle Squaw of the Hippopotamus hide as a team. In this way, they hoped to see that she would no longer be champion wrestler of the tribe.

As the luck of the draw would have it, the two sons who were wrestling as a tandem met the squaw in the final and championship round of the wrestling contest. As the match began, it became clear that the squaw had finally met an opponent that was her equal. The two sons wrestled and struggled vigorously and were clearly on an equal footing with the powerful squaw. Their match lasted for hours without a clear victor. Finally the chief intervened and declared that, in the interests of the health and safety of the wrestlers, the match was to be terminated and that he would declare a winner.

The chief retired to his teepee and contemplated the great struggle he had witnessed, and found it extremely difficult to decide a winner. While the two young men had clearly outmatched the squaw, he found it difficult to force the squaw to relinquish her tribal championship. After all, it had taken two young men to finally provide her with a decent match. Finally, after much deliberation, the chief came out from his teepee, and announced his decision. He said…

“The Squaw of the Hippopotamus hide is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.”

The Pythagorean Theorem joke (II)

There were three Medieval kingdoms on the shores of a lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake, which the kingdoms had been fighting over for years. Finally, the three kings decided that they would send their knights out to do battle, and the winner would take the island.

The night before the battle, the knights and their squires pitched camp and readied themselves for the fight. The first kingdom had 12 knights, and each knight had 5 squires, all of whom were busily polishing armor, brushing horses, and cooking food. The second kingdom had 20 knights, and each knight had 10 squires. Everyone at that camp was also busy preparing for battle. At the camp of the third kingdom, there was only one knight, with his squire. This squire took a large pot and hung it from a looped rope in a tall tree. He busied himself preparing the meal, while the knight polished his own armor.

When the hour of the battle came, the three kingdoms sent their squires out to fight (this was too trivial a matter for the knights to join in). The battle raged, and when the dust cleared, the only person left was the lone squire from the third kingdom, having defeated the squires from the other two kingdoms.

The moral?  The squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.

Sheepdog math

A farmer is wondering how many sheep he has in his field, so he asks his sheepdog to count them. The dog runs into the field, counts them, and then runs back to his master.

“So,” says the farmer. “How many sheep were there?”

“40,” replies the dog.

“How can there be 40?” exclaims the farmer. “I only bought 38!”

“I know,” says the dog. “But I rounded them up.”

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they laid down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.”

“And,” Holmes asked, “what does that tell you?”

Watson pondered for a moment.

“Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are but small and insignificant and finally, meteorologically, I suspect that that we will have a beautiful day for hiking tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?”

Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke.

“It tells me, dear Watson, that some bastard has stolen our tent.”


A father is showing his young daughter how to work the calculator he bought her for school. He shows her some of the commands, and gives her the calculator. Then, as a test, he asks her, “Alright, what is the sine of 45?”

She looks at her pop. “Being over the hill?”

Smooth operator

A mathematician tries his had at picking up the pretty girl at the bar. After chatting her up a bit, she asks coyly “Just how old do you think I am?”

“By your sparkling eyes, I’d guess 19. By your thin hips, I’d guess 21. By your effervecent smile, 22. Hence, if I sum these…”

The snake joke (I)

The ark lands after the Flood. Noah lets all the animals out, saying, “Go and multiply.”

Several months pass. Noah decides to check up on the animals. All are doing fine except a pair of snakes. “What’s the problem?” asks Noah.

“Cut down some trees and let us live there,” say the snakes.

Noah follows their advice. Several more weeks pass. Noah checks on the snakes again. Lots of little snakes crawl over the earth, and everybody is happy.

Perplexed, Noah asks, “Want to tell me how the trees helped?”

“Certainly,” say the snakes. “We’re adders, and we need logs to multiply.”

The snake joke (II)

A man camped in a national park, and noticed Mr. Snake and Mrs. Snake slithering by. “Where are all the little snakes?” he asked. Mr. Snake replied, “We are adders, so we cannot multiply.”

The following year, the man returned to the same camping spot. This time there were a whole batch of little snakes. “I thought you said you could not multiply,” he said to Mr. Snake. “Well, the park ranger came by and built a log table, so now we can multiply by adding!”


Little Johnny was busy doing his homework. As his mother approached she heard him saying:

“One and one, the son-of-a-bitch is two.
Two and two, the son-of-a-bitch is four.
Three and three, the son-of-a-bitch is six…”

His mother interrupted, asking where he had learned this way of doing math. Johnny remarked that his teacher Ms. Clara Jones taught him. His mother was rather upset and told him to stop the homework. The very next day she approached Ms. Jones and told her what her son claimed she had taught him to swear while doing mathematics.

The teacher was flabbergasted. She said that she couldn’t understand why Johnny had said what he did. “All we did yesterday,” Mrs. Jones explained, “was basic addition:

One and one, the sum of which is two.
Two and two, the sum of which is four.
Three and three, the sum of which is six…”

The smart horse

There was once a very smart horse. Anything that was shown it, it mastered easily.

That is until the day its teachers tried to teach it about analytic geometry. To there surprise, the horse simply could not understand rectangular coordinates at all. All the horse’s acquaintances and friends tried to help, but neither they nor the horse could figure out what was the matter, and the so the horse continued to be confused by the subject.

Finally, a mathematician was brought in to assist. He looked at the problem, and then shook his head. “Of course he can’t do it,” he replied. “Do you know you’re putting Descartes before the horse?”

Statistics and alligators

A statistics major, working on his stats homework, suddenly asks his roommate “Isn’t statistics wonderful?”

“How so?” asks the roommate.

“Well, according to statistics, there are 42 million alligator eggs laid every year. Of those, only about half get hatched. Of those that hatch, three fourths of them get eaten by predators in the first 36 days. And of the rest, only 5 percent get to be a year old for one reason or another. Isn’t statistics wonderful?”

“What’s so wonderful about all that?” asks the roommate.

“Well, duh! If it weren’t for statistics, we’d be up to our asses in alligators!”

Statistics and hunting

Three statisticians went deer hunting. They spied a deer in the woods.

The first statistician shot, and missed the deer by being a foot too far to the left.

The second statistician shot, and missed the deer by being a foot too far to the right.

The third cried, “We hit it!”

A story about nothing

A man traveling through the Orient passed a small courtyard and heard voices murmuring. He went in and saw an altar with a large stone O in the middle. White-robed people were kneeling before the altar, softly chanting “Nil… nil… nil…” while ceremonial priests sang prayers to The Great Nullity and The Blessed Emptiness.

Eventually, the man turned to a white-robed observer beside him and asked “Is Nothing sacred?”

The theory of gears

A mathematician decides he wants to learn more about practical problems. He sees a seminar with a nice title — The Theory of Gears — so he goes.

The speaker stands up and begins, “The theory of gears with a real number of teeth is well known …”

Thesis advice

One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the fine weather. The day was so nice that she became careless and a fox sneaked up behind her and caught her.

“I am going to eat you for lunch!”, said the fox.

“Wait!” replied the rabbit, “You should at least wait a few days.”

“Oh yeah? Why should I wait?”

“Well, I am just finishing my thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

“Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit.”

“Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come into my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch.”

“You really are crazy!” But since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit. The fox never came out.

A few days later the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to set upon her.

“Wait!” yelled the rabbit, “you can’t eat me right now.”

“And why might that be, my furry appetizer?”

“I am almost finished writing my thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

The wolf laughed so hard that it almost lost its grip on the rabbit. “Maybe I shouldn’t eat you. You really are sick…in the head. You might have something contagious.”

“Come and read it for yourself. You can eat me afterward if you disagree with my conclusions.” So the wolf went down into the rabbit’s hole…and never came out.

The rabbit finished her thesis and was out celebrating in the local lettuce patch. Another rabbit came along and asked, “What’s up? You seem very happy.”

“Yup, I just finished my thesis.”

“Congratulations. What’s it about?”

“‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

“Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right.”

“Oh yes. Come and read it for yourself.”

So together they went down into the rabbit’s hole. As they entered, the friend saw the typical graduate student abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial work was in one corner. To the right there was a pile of fox bones, to the left a pile of wolf bones. And in the middle was a large, well fed lion.

The moral of the story: The title of your thesis doesn’t matter. The subject doesn’t matter. The research doesn’t matter.

All that matters is who your adviser is.

Topology test

A student was doing miserably on his oral final exam in General Toplogy. Exasperated by the student’s abysmal performance up to that point, the professor asked the student “So, what do you know about topology?”

The student replied, “I know the definition of a topologist.”

The professor asked him to state the definition, expecting to get the old saw about someone who can’t tell the difference between a coffee cup and a doughnut.

Instead, the student replied: “A topologist is someone who can’t tell the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground, but who can tell the difference between his ass and two holes in the ground.”

The student passed.

The Weierstrass M-Test joke

The Royal Chain Mail Factory had received a large order for battle uniforms. Each uniform consisted of a chain-mail toga and a pair of chain-mail short pants. Their only problem was how long to make the pants: too short and a soldier could be exposed; too long and a uniform would be excessively heavy.

Perplexed most by the problem was the Royal Mathematician. He had a uniform made and tested. The hem on the pants proved to be too short, so he increased it a little bit, then a little more, and then a little bit more, and so on until finally he was able to derive an exact relationship between the trouser-length and the leg-length of the soldier.

The chief tailor was curious. “How did you determine this ratio?” he asked?

“Easy,” said the Mathematician. “I just used the Wire-trousers Hem Test of Uniform Convergence.”

The wrong equations

A physics professor has been conducting experiments and has worked out a set of equations which seem to explain his data. Nevertheless, he is unsure if his equations are really correct and therefore asks a colleague from the math department to check them.

A week later, the math professor calls him: “I’m sorry, but your equations are complete nonsense.”

The physics professor is, of course, disappointed. Strangely, however, his incorrect equations turn out to be surprisingly accurate in predicting the results of further experiments. So, he asks the mathematician if he was sure about the equations being completely wrong.

“Well”, the mathematician replies, “they are not actually complete nonsense. But the only case in which they are true is the trivial one where the numbers are real and positive…”