What Makes Math Funny

March 10, 2010 at 2:37 am Leave a comment

The following joke comes from Harold Reiter, a math professor at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte:

Last night, I was working on a difficult problem, and getting nowhere with it. So I went to bed. When I woke up this morning, it was dark; but then it dawned on me!

Despite public perception, Harold contends that most mathematicians have a keenly developed sense of humor. I love Harold’s description for why math things are funny:

For mathematicians, technical words have a specific meaning that are sometimes quite different from the colloquial meaning, and often that distinction can be emphasized in a humorous way. Take the word dawn. Two meanings come to mind, a “brainstorm” and “the start of a new day.” So, it makes sense to try to get both meanings into a one-liner: When I woke up , it was dark; but then it dawned on me!

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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March 2010

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