Pringles: The Edible Hyperbolic Paraboloid

August 31, 2012 at 11:16 am 1 comment

PringlesMy wife forwarded an email with a link to a CNN article and subject line, “Your husband will love this.” Uh-oh. Even my closest friends cannot correctly predict what I will and will not love, so how would a colleague of my wife — who only knows me from an introduction at a professional reception — be able to make such a prediction?

But the article did not disappoint. The author wrote about the mathematically satisfying shape of Pringles®, and she quoted her husband thus:

They [Lays Stax] set themselves up as a Pringles competitor, but it’s an entirely different curvature!

I have never met the author, but her last name was familiar. As luck would have it, her math professor husband and I taught together at a gifted camp for several summers. Small world, eh?

My favorite line of the article was from the last paragraph.

Flavor is subjective. Math is irrefutable.


What I enjoyed most about this occurrence was the intersection of several math topics. The article discusses parabolic cylinders and hyperbolic paraboloids, which are topics in multivariable calculus; a colleague of my wife forwarded a link about an article written by the wife of a former colleague, which demonstrates social network theory; and, a colleague of my wife is not equivalent to the wife of my colleague, which shows non‑commutativity.

Hyperbolic Paraboloid

My two cents? Pringles® rule.

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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.

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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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August 2012

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