## Archive for February 21, 2011

### Hail to the Chief

The following quote comes from Hugo Rossi, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, University of Utah:

In the fall of 1972, President Nixon announced that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a sitting president used the third derivative to advance his case for reelection.

That’s fantastic — and quite appropriate for President’s Day.

Presidents and mathematics have a long history together. Of course, everyone knows that James Garfield created a novel proof of the Pythagorean theorem using a trapezoid. But did you know that Andrew Johnson had no formal education and learned math (as well as reading and writing) from his wife? **[update] **And after graduating from the Naval Academy, Jimmy Carter, who tutored his midshipman classmates in mathematics, did graduate work in nuclear physics at Union College.

In honor of President’s Day, here are some of my favorite math jokes about presidents. (These jokes happen to reference George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but feel free to tell them about Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Millard Fillmore, or any other president whom you hold in high disdain.)

At his morning security briefing, President Bush was informed that there had been a tragedy. “Sir,” said his security advisor, “three Brazilian soldiers were shot last night.”

“Oh, my God,” says Dubya, his head dropping into his hands. After a moment, he collected himself and asked, “How many is a brazillion, anyway?”“It is my understanding,” President Obama said at a news conference about education, “that math educators are frequently teaching algebra classes in which their students learn how to solve equations with the help of radicals. I can’t say that I approve of that…”

Who succeeded the first President of the United States?

The second one!