Goofing around with exercises in my wife’s Intro to Fourier Analysis book (Stein & Shakarchi), I tied my all-time record for Number of Minus Signs Needed to Cancel in a Problem, with five. The mathematical expression looked something like this:

And my facial expression looked something like this:

As I switched back and forth (positive! negative! positive!) I was reminded of the challenges of going against a Sicilian with death on the line:

I mean, it’s no land war in Asia, but it’s no walk in the park with Princess Buttercup, either. (And of course, in my case as in The PrincessBride,both glasses were poisoned. Which is to say, I’d set up the integral incorrectly.)

Whenever I saw – ( – x) I would just draw a big + over too of all that junk. It served me well!

Wow, great tip !

Two thoughts:

1. I like that the probabilities dropped to 50% rather than 0%.

2. Should the bottom of that last fraction have a pi in it?

Good call – meant to cancel it with the pi in the numerator. Now fixed.

I say the -1 in the exponent doesn’t count because you can’t cancel it with anything.