Archive for October, 2014

Word + Letter = Math Term

AnagramOn a recent Sunday Puzzle on NPR, Will Shortz gave a letter and a word, and the contestant was to guess the name of a popular TV show using an anagram of the letters (“Coming to TV This Fall: Anagrams,” Oct 12, 2014). For instance,

M + NAMED

gave the answer

MAD MEN.

This struck me as an interesting puzzle format. My only criticism is that it just wasn’t mathy enough.

But I’m not a problem maker, I’m a problem solver… so rather than cast aspersions at the puzzle, I’ll instead use the format to offer my own version.

Each of the 26 letters of the alphabet has been paired with a common English word. An anagram of the pair will yield a common math word. How many can you find?

  1. A + ERA
  2. B + AGLARE
  3. C + BITES
  4. D + NOTICER
  5. E + EDGERS
  6. F + SAUCER
  7. G + LEAN
  8. H + OPERABLY
  9. I + TANGLER
  10. J + INDUCTIONS
  11. K + SEW
  12. L + POSE
  13. M + RIPS
  14. N + AIMED
  15. O + PINT
  16. P + MYRIAD
  17. Q + AURES
  18. R + ENVIES
  19. S + RECITED
  20. T + HAM
  21. U + RAIDS
  22. V + EXERT
  23. W + ROPE
  24. X + SEA
  25. Y + PENTHOUSE
  26. Z + ORE

I don’t believe in providing an answer key, but you can find some help at Math Words, and you can click over to More Words if you run into real trouble. But give it the old college try before seeking assistance. Honestly, you’ll feel better about yourself if you solve these on your own.

October 31, 2014 at 7:10 am Leave a comment

Halloween Math Jokes (Best Of)

I’d like to put together an entire collection of Halloween math jokes, but I don’t have the energy to write it.

I think I’ll use a ghost writer.

Did you hear about the ghost who earned 14% on his math exam?
He made a lot of boo-boos.

The following is blatantly stolen from all the other sites who blatantly stole it from somewhere else…Paranormal Distribution

I’ve published a post with Halloween math jokes for the past several years.

Got any good Halloween math jokes? Please share!

October 27, 2014 at 6:01 am Leave a comment

True Inequalities

It’s true that Bertrand Russell once stated he could prove anything, given that 1 + 1 = 1. What’s likely not true is that someone challenged Russell to prove that he was the Pope, and he responded by saying, “I am one. The Pope is one. Therefore, the Pope and I are one.”

Whatever. Even apocryphal, it’s a fun story. Who needs truth, anyway?

Ask the poet (Keats) who said that what the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.

He might also have said that what the hand seizes as a ball must be truth, but he didn’t, because he was a poet and preferred loafing about under trees with a bottle of laudanum and a notebook to playing cricket, but it would have been equally true.

— Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

The following inequalities are — under some circumstances — true.


1 + 1 = 1

See above. (Were you even paying attention?)


1 + 3 = 1

This inequality comes from an athletic shirt that I own. What happens when one large, hungry fish meets three little fish? One large fish leaves with a full belly. (In case you can’t see it in the picture, there are four sets of small fish bones in the big fish’s belly.)

one fish three fish


10 + 10 = 100

Binary much?


1/10 = 20%

Middle school teachers will cringe at seeing this seemingly incorrect fraction-to-percent conversion, but it’s true if you’re looking at a nutrition label. Eat 10g of low-fat Swiss cheese with 1g fat and 9g protein, and 20% of your calories come from fat.


10 + 4 = 2

On a calculator? No. On a clock? Yes. Move 4 hours past 10 o’clock, and it’s 2 o’clock.


1/2 + 1/3 = 2/5

More for middle-school teachers to cringe about. But if you play sports and want to compute your shooting, passing, or batting average, this equation is totally legit.

October 23, 2014 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Infinite Integer Triangles

Here’s an interesting question.

Given the side of a triangle with integer length, what is the set of all points in the plane for which the other two sides will also have integer lengths?

And by interesting, I mean that the answer wasn’t immediately obvious to me.

So I drew a segment 5 units long in Geometer’s SketchPad, created a bunch of concentric circles with integer radii and centers at the endpoints of the segment, identified the intersection points of those circles, and finally hid the circles. The result was the following beautiful image:

Points Integer Triangle

The points in the plane that yield triangles with integer side lengths.
(The given segment is 5 units long.)

And by beautiful, I mean that the result is, well, beautiful. At least to a math dork. If this had been painted by Van Gogh, it would have been called Triangle in a Starry Night. (Okay, maybe not.)

The triangle indicated by the dashed lines is the famous 3-4-5 right triangle. The points in the upper right and upper left corners yield the less well known but similarly intoxicating 5-5-8 triangle. If the limitations of the web allowed this image to extend infinitely in all directions, the result would be infinite beauty. Alas, reality confines us.

I have an infinity of jokes that deal with triangles and circles, but I’ll only share a subset of them here.

What did the triangle say to the circle?
Your life is pointless.

Why don’t circles hang out with ellipses?
Too eccentric.

What did the hypotenuse say to the other two sides?
Nice legs!

Where do circles and ellipses spend their vacations?
Coney Island.

What’s a circle?
A round, straight line with a hole in the middle.

What did the circle say to the tangent line?
Stop touching me!

October 10, 2014 at 8:00 am 3 comments


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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