Archive for May 20, 2010

Transitivity

This morning, my son Alex — who is only 3.03 years old — applied the transitive property. I asked, “How many feet are in our house?” He and his twin brother Eli counted their feet and my feet and correctly arrived at 6 feet.

“But you missed some feet,” I said. “Who else is in the house?” They realized that they had not included our dog, Remy, so they added four more and correctly concluded that there were 10 feet in our house. I said, “Great! So you just showed that 6 + 4 = 10.” (Yes, in fact, I really talk this way to my toddler sons.) I then asked, “If mommy were home, how many feet would there be?”

Eli noted that his mommy has 2 feet, and Alex said, “11, 12… 12!”

“Right,” I said. “And 10 + 2 = 12.”

That’s when Alex hit me with something I hadn’t quite expected. He said:

“So, 6 + 4 + 2 = 12.”

Holy mackerel! I was astounded. My 3‑year‑old son had just applied the transitive property!

In doing so, he reminded me of a transitive argument that comedian Richard Jeni displayed in one of his shows:

God is love.
Love is blind.
Therefore, Ray Charles is God.

And speaking of Ray Charles…

Ray Charles

May 20, 2010 at 12:36 am Leave a comment


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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.

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