Posts tagged ‘hypotenuse’

Specialized Language of Mathematics

The High School Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics says that materials aligned with CCSSM should emphasize mathematical reasoning by “explicitly attending to the specialized language of mathematics.”

I am greatly concerned by this, as there is much confusion about many of the most important words in mathematics.

Words like dodecagon


…or coordinate axes

Coordinate Axes

…or hypotenuse

High Pot In Use

…or quartiles


…or spheroid

Preparation S

The Common Core mathematics glossary contains 52 terms, yet none of the five listed above are on that list. I certainly hope the glossary committee will consider adding some of them.

February 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm Leave a comment

The Mathematics of Gift Wrapping

Has this ever happened to you?


You place a gift on the wrapping paper. You estimate how much you’ll need. You cut. You place the gift on the paper. You fold over both sides.


That’s when you realize your estimation skills are on par with those of a government contractor.

But, no worries! Math is here!

The hypotenuse of a right triangle is longer than either leg. Consequently, turning the wrapping paper at an angle will allow the paper to cover the gift.



My wife hates it, but whatever! What initially appeared to be a terrible estimate yielded a 15.8% savings in wrapping paper.

Based on my calculations, if all gifts were wrapped this way, the country would save $147 million each year on wrapping-paper related expenses. (Where’s that statistic when politicians discuss the economy?)

December 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

Longest Side of a Right Triangle

Tall ToiletI’m rather tall — between 5’11” and 6’4″, depending on which convenience store I’m leaving — but my wife is quite a bit shorter. One of her great laments was our decision to install a tall toilet in our main bathroom when we had it remodeled. I love it, but her feet dangle three inches off the floor when she uses it.

This morning, she knocked on the door while I was in that bathroom. “Are you in there?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, “and it feels like the longest side of a right triangle in here.”

She was about to ask, “What?” Then she saw it was a set-up, so she didn’t. But I don’t need no stinkin’ straight man; I delivered the punch line anyway:

High pot in use.

The typical set-up for that punch line usually goes something like

What do you call a kettle of boiling water on top of Mount Everest?

A better set-up is

What do you call a kettle of boiling water in a hangman’s rope?

because then the punch line is, “High pot in noose,” which sounds more like the real term.

But based on this morning’s incident, I think the best set-up may be

What do you call a tall toilet in an occupied bathroom?

Whatever, pick your poison. It’s not like any of ’em is gonna win you a free beer at the next improv comedy night.

August 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment

As Smart as Einstein

I’m smart. I mean, really smart. I may not be as smart as Jeffrey Skilling, who described himself as “f**king smart,” but I think I’m at least as smart as Albert Einstein.

Watch. I’ll prove it.

Einstein came up with the formula E = mc2. Luckily, I’ve studied algebra, geometry and graph theory, so I know that E = edges, m = slope, and c = length of hypotenuse. I can then use the following diagram to verify Einstein’s formula:

Grid With Triangle

It’s quite easy to see that the slope of the hypotenuse is 1, so plugging values into the formula gives the following:

Einstein's Formula

This result is then confirmed by counting the edges in the triangle. Q.E.D.

(By the way, qed is derived from a French word that means, “And there you have it.” It’s a great Scrabble® word, since it contains a q but no u. You should use it next time you play Words With Friends. Seriously, your opponent will be impressed.)

See? I told you I was smart.

May 15, 2012 at 11:38 am 8 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.

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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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