Jokes (Fall 1998-Sherman)

I welcome contributions to this file. Send submissions to Submissions must have mathematical or algorithms content.

  1. There are three types of algorithms students: those who can count, and those who can't.

  2. Prove: Given any algorithm, you can always make it run more slowly. Is the converse true?

  3. Arithmetic series: In 5th grade, Karl Frederick Gauss's teacher attempted to punish him by demanding that he sum the integers from 1 to 100. His teacher thought that that task ought to keep the young Gauss out of mischief for a while. To his teacher's surprise, however, Gauss immediately responded "5050", remarking that it's a simple matter to sum the arithmetic series.

  4. Geometric series: A woman walks toward a man. With each step she traverses half the remaining distance. Will she ever reach the man? No, but she will come close enough for all practical purposes.

  5. Superpolylogarithmic Subexponential Functions

  6. Mathematicians work with paper, pencil, and waste baskets. They generate lots of ideas--some good, some bad. Mathematicians recognize the difference and use the waste basket to throw out the bad ideas. By contrast, while philosophers also make mistakes, they work only with paper and pencil.

  7. The differences between a mathematician, physicist, and engineer are highlighted by their approach to the following hypothesis: "All odd integers are prime." The mathematician, quickly observing that 9 is odd and composite, concludes that--by counterexample--the hypothesis is false. The physicist first collects some data: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, nine is not prime, 11 is prime, ..., 15 is not prime, 17 is prime. The physicist concludes that, within experimental error, the hypothesis is true. The engineer reasons 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, and concludes that the hypothesis is true.

  8. A famous math professor was unusually absent-minded the other day when he picked up the phone, trying to dial for pizza, and heard: "The number you have just dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90 degrees and try your call again."

  9. Teaching over time.