A Glut of Math Jokes

The Optimist & the Pessimist

2018.6.1 glass half full

The statistician, meanwhile, is not going to draw any hasty conclusions about glass fullness from a data set where n=1.


The Venn Diagram of Practicality and Fuzziness

2018.6.4 carpets

Did I reverse-engineer the “practical” and “fuzzy” labels to make the diagram work? YOU HAD BETTER BELIEVE IT MY BLOG-READING FRIEND


Temperature/Pressure Diagrams

2018.6.5 pressure temperature diagram

In hindsight I would draw this one rather differently. The existing diagram suggests that increasing life pressure can drive me from coffee to iced coffee (maybe true) but also that increased ambient temperature can drive me from iced coffee to lemonade (definitely false).


Devil’s Advocate

2018.6.7 devil's advocate

“What, are you saying the devil doesn’t deserve due process?”
“Yes! And also, the devil’s not on trial! We really don’t need the devil to have a representative in every meeting!


A Package for the Square Root of 2

2018.6.8 package for root-2

Far and away the most positive response I’ve gotten for a cartoon on Facebook! It goes to show, I have no idea what cartoons people will love.


Step Count

2018.6.11 fitbit for proofs

I’ve seen 7th-graders do this not for fitness-related reasons, just for the love of the game. Right on, 7th-graders. Take the scenic route to an answer.


Platonic States of Matter

2018.6.12 platonic liquid

Alas, it’s very hard to tell Platonic liquids from Archimedean liquids – or irregular liquids, for that matter.


Data vs. Anecdotes

2018.6.14 anecdotes vs. data

The correct answer is C: self-referential cartoons about data and anecdotes!


Prime Factorization

2018.6.15 you just broke number theory

G.H. Hardy confidently asserted that number theory would never serve any “warlike purpose,” but I think we can all agree that G.H. Hardy was a rube and a fool.


Infimum Wage

2018.6.18 infimum wage

I mean, what if there’s an infinite sequence of workers making $8 + 1/n?



2018.6.19 scooped

Preliminary data points towards “probably not.”


2018.6.21 years of grad school

“Are you finishing soon?
[bloodcurdling scream] “THE AGONY!!! OH, THE AGONY…”
“Nice, only two years left! Good luck with your thesis project.”


Time Moves Fast

2018.6.22 dt-dt is 1

This joke never gets old! Well, it does, but only at a rate of 1 year per year.


How Many Negatives Make a Positive?

2018.6.25 four negatives

I think this phrase is more useful in describing language (where it’s sometimes true, and at least easy to interpret) than in math (where it just confuses).


The Equation’s Story

2018.6.26 every equation a story

Really, this equation is a murder mystery. One of the variables is zero, and you’ve got to find out which one!

(Twist ending: it’s both.)


Nuts and Bolts

2018.6.28 nuts and bolts

Sounds like… a breakfast cereal? Or something to do with why tables don’t fall down? I’ve always wondered about that…


How Excited

2018.6.29 how excited are you

8.7! That is pretty darn excited.

15 thoughts on “A Glut of Math Jokes

  1. From the great movie A Man for All Seasons:

    Sir Thomas More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law.

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    Video clip (above starts at 2:25 or so, but it’s all worth listening to).

  2. So many comments
    On glasses:
    The Engineer says the glass has a 2x safety factor
    The Economist says that there is excess capacity.

    I read the other day that the Queen insists that drinks be served with spherical-ice-cubes. What is a spherical cube?

    Grad school — I didn’t pursue it myself. But looking at my friends on a PhD track.
    Years 1 and 2 take course work.
    Year 3 write thesis.
    Year 4 submit thesis to adviser, make revisions based on adviser’s comments.
    Year 5 submit thesis to adviser, make revisions based on adviser’s comments.
    Year 6 submit thesis to adviser, make revisions based on adviser’s comments.
    Year 7 submit thesis to adviser, make revisions based on adviser’s comments.


    Looks like one more variation on the Freshman’s dream. A familiar theme that has been retold many times. I had thought it was pure fantasy. Then in I learned about commutative rings of characteristic p.

    1. Hey Doug! I have something I’d love to email you about but I realized I don’t have an email for you – if you see this, would you mind getting in touch with me? (My email is just the name of the blog at gmail).

  3. Double Positive — A linguist was teaching a class at an American university, and explained that a double negative could make a positive, but there was no language in the world in which a double positive made a negative. A heckler replied bluntly, “Yeah, right.”

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