- Feb 28, 2009
Dari http://mathstat.helsinki.fi/~kisdi/jokes.htm"Are you sure about this?" - his tutors ask Descartes about his ideas on analytic geometry.
"I think it is true, so therefore it is!"
How does one assess one’s own work?
Initially it looks important,
in retrospect it looks simple,
and in a few years time one does not understand it any more.
"Elementary" means that very little is required to know ahead of time in order to understand it, except to have an infinite amount of intelligence. (R. Feynmann)
The biggest tragedy in science is when a beautiful theory is destroyed by a fact.
Among mathematicians, computer scientists, and physicists, the real world is often a special case of limited interest.
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What are the Finns like?
+15°C. People in Spain put on winter coats and gloves. Finns take a sunbath.
+10°C. French try, with no success, to switch central heating on. Finns plant flowers in their gardens.
+5°C. Italian cars do not start. Finns use cabriolets.
0°C. Distilled water freezes. Vantaa river water gets a bit denser.
-5°C. Californians nearly freeze to death. Finns organise a last barbecue party before winter starts.
-10°C. Brits start heating their houses. Finns put on long-sleeve shirts.
-20°C. Australians escape from Mallorca. Finnish autumn starts.
-30°C. Greeks freeze to death and vanish from the Earth. Finns do laundry indoors.
-40°C. Paris cracks under the cold. Finns queue for hot dogs.
-50°C. Icebears are evacuated from the North Pole. The Finnish Army delays its winter survival training for weak weather.
-60°C. Korvatunturi (home of Santa Claus) freezes. Finns borrow a movie and stay at home.
-70°C. Santa Claus moves to the south. Finns are upset because Koskenkorva cannot be stored outdoors. The Finnish Army starts survival training.
-183°C. Microbes in food die. Finnish cows complain of farmers' cold hands.
-273°C All molecular motion stops. Finns say, "... it's cold today".
-300°C Hell freezes up. Finns win the Eurovisio pop song festival.
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HOW TO HUNT ELEPHANTS
How do you hunt elephants?
MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left. Experienced mathematicians will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate excercise. Professors of mathematics will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an excercise for their graduate students.
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by excercising Algorithm A:
1. Go to Africa.
2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope.
3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west.
4. During each traverse pass,
a. Catch each animal seen.
b. Compare each animal caught to a known elephant.
c. Stop when a match is detected.
Experienced COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate. Assembly language programmers prefer to execute Algorithm A on their hands and knees.
ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.
ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.
STATISTICIANS hunt the 1st animal they see N times & call it an elephant.
CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do. Operations research consultants can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.
POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.
LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings. Software lawyers will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.
VICE PRESIDENTS of engineering, research, and development try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely prehunted before the vice president sees them. If the vice president does see a nonprehunted elephant, the staff will (1) compliment the vice president's keen eyesight and (2) enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.
SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.
QUALITY ASSURANCE inspectors ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.
SALESPEOPLE don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens. Software salespeople ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant. Hardware salespeople catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as DESKTOP ELEPHANTS.
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HEAVEN AND HELL
HEAVEN is the place where
Italians are the lovers,
French are the chefs,
German are the mechanics,
British are the policemen,
and it is all organised by the Swiss.
HELL is the place where
Swiss are the lovers,
British are the chefs,
French are the mechanics,
German are the policemen,
and it is all organised by the Italians.
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Glossary of Common Math Terms
This is trivial.
= I forget the proof.
This is obvious.
= You forget the proof.
This is a calculation.
= Let's all forget the proof.
Send me your preprints.
= Please go away.
Send me your reprints.
= Please stay away.
I'll send you some of my papers.
= Drop dead.
Look it up in Dunford and Schwartz.
= In your face.
Go ask Prof. Smith over there.
= In his face.
Let's make an appointment and talk about it.
= In my face.
Read my book.
= I don't know.
That problem is intractable.
= I can't do the problem so neither can you.
I thought about that question twenty years ago, but I forget the answer.
= I'm more famous than you are.
That's the most insightful question I ever heard. Let me think about it.
= You're more famous than I am.
Let's write a joint paper on that.
= We're equally famous but I'm lazy.
He's one of the great living mathematicians.
= He's written five papers and I've read two of them.
He's one of the four greatest living mathematicians.
= I don't know anything about his mathematics, but this is what Andre Weil said.
What are some applications of your theorem?
= What _is_ your theorem?
Didn't Jones do some similar stuff a few years ago?
= I know where you copied.
I don't understand that step.
= You goofed.
How do you reconcile your theorem with this example?
= You're dead.
Your theorem contradicts my theorem.
= I'm dead.
I've heard so much about you.
= Stalling a minute may give me time to recall who you are.
Who was your advisor?
= What rock did you crawl out from under?
What was your thesis about?
= Are you still polishing your thesis?
Where do you teach?
= Do you have a job?
Your talk was very interesting.
= I can't think of anything to say about your talk.
I read one of your papers.
= I wrapped fish with one of your papers.
(-Steven G. Krantz, The Mathematical Intelligenter, 1994)
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