Math Limerick Problems

February 25, 2013 at 8:06 pm 6 comments

Albert Einstein said that “pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” That may or may not be true, but all I know is that math poems are pretty awesome.

There are lots of math limericks on the web. One of my favorites:

A topologist’s child was quite hyper,
Till it wore a Möbius diaper.
The mess on the inside
Was thus on the outside,
And it was easy for someone to wipe her.

Fred Tofts, who claims to not be a mathematician but loves mathematics, recently shared a different kind of math limerick with MJ4MF. His five-line creation was not meant to deliver a punch line; rather, it presented a problem. As a comment to my blog interview with Colin Adams, he wrote, “I have not written any math jokes but have written many math limericks,” and then shared the following:

A dog’s at one end of a log;
At the opposite end is a frog.
Six feet from the frog
And eight feet from the dog
Is a right angle. How long’s the log?

Frog and Dog on Log

I do hope that the good Mr. Tofts will share a few more of his creations with us!

The following is more of a truth than a puzzle, but fun nonetheless.

Pick a number 1 to 9, I plea,
Then multiply by 15,873.
And again times seven,
The product to leaven;
Your number will repeat six times — you’ll see.

Do you have any math limerick problems worth sharing?

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mei Rose  |  February 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

    A dozen, a gross, and a score,
    Plus three times the square root of four
    Divided by seven
    Plus five times eleven
    Equals nine squared and not a bit more.

    Reply
    • 2. venneblock  |  February 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks for sharing this one. It gives me an opportunity to set the record straight. This limerick appeared in a Saxon Math textbook, so people often attribute it to John Saxon. But it was actually penned by Leigh Mercer, a London wordplay artist and recreational mathematician. It was published in Games magazine in the 1970’s. He supposedly also created the famous palindrome, “A man, a plan, a canal — Panama!”

      Reply
    • 3. Kieros  |  April 6, 2013 at 12:44 am

      There’s another variation to this; replacing the last two lines with “Plus nine times eleven / Equals five cubed…” still holds true.

      Reply
      • 4. venneblock  |  April 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

        Excellent! I hadn’t heard that variation before, Kieros. Thanks for sharing!

  • 5. Karen Craigs  |  March 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

    The irrational number e
    Is the limit of the quantity
    One plus one over n
    All to the power of n
    As n goes to infinity.

    The irrational number e
    This rate occurs naturally
    A bank account lifts
    As interest adds gifts
    This value and rate go nicely!

    Reply
    • 6. venneblock  |  March 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Rock on, Karen! Thanks for sharing these.

      Reply

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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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