## Posts tagged ‘math jokes’

### Places You Wouldn’t Want to Live on Valentine’s Day

Be thankful that you don’t live in the Gem State today:

Idaho law makes it illegal to give your sweetheart a box of candy weighing less than fifty pounds.

That’s a direct quote from *You Can’t Eat Peanuts in Church and Other Little-Known Laws*, a book by Barbara Seuling, originally published in 1975. The book is now out-of-print, but I was able to find it at a local used bookstore.

I never verified that the Idaho law is still on the books. My rationale — who cares if it’s still in effect? The fact that it was ever a public law is satisfying enough for me. Turns out, there are other places where it would be bad to live on Valentine’s Day. Maryland law puts a time limit on affection:

A kiss can last no longer than one second in Halethorpe, Maryland.

And shaving is an apparent necessity for every romantic Hoosier:

In Indiana, a mustache is illegal on anyone who “habitually kisses human beings.”

(As best I can tell, there is no law against sporting a ‘stache if you habitually kiss other species.)

It’s good that those three laws were not intended for the same locale. Can you imagine having to shave and then lug a 50-pound box of chocolate to your sweetheart’s, just for a peck on the cheek that lasts less than a second? No, thank you.

Mathy folks are often accused of being less romantic than the average person, but I don’t think that’s true. Case in point — I once knew a mathematician who loved his wife so much that he almost told her!

My college roommate was a set theorist. On Valentine’s Day, he gave his girlfriend the following note:

I ∈ U

She was an engineering major and knew a fair amount of math, but he had to translate for her: “I belong to U.”

### That’s a Stretch

Here’s a topology joke that I’ve heard at least a million times, but it still makes me giggle.

Student: What course will you be teaching this semester, professor?

Professor: Topology.

Student: Topology accepted.

Here’s a new topology joke that I just heard. It makes me giggle, too.

How many topologists does it take to tile a floor?

Just one… but you’ve got to slice him really thin.

Here are a few other topology jokes, most of which cause groans…

Why did the chicken cross the Mobius strip?

To get to the other, um, …Brother: What’s your favorite topic in mathematics?

Sister: Knot theory.

Brother: Yeah, me, neither.Topologists do it on rubber sheets.

Topologists do it openly.

Togologists do it in multiply connected domains.

Topologists don’t do it. They’d rather knot.

### A Funny Phone Call

Deborah Bliss is a former vice-president of the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics and the current Instructional Supervisor for Mathematics in Loudoun County Public Schools (VA). During a recent phone call, she shared two jokes with me that are worth passing on to others.

Why did 1/5 need to visit the school counselor?

Because he was two-tenths (too tense).

The second joke is actually more of a story.

The Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM) holds an annual conference. One year when Deborah returned from the conference, she brought home one of the conference give-aways, a tote bag with the ASSM logo on it. Upon seeing this, her daughter exclaimed, “Mom, it’s an ASSM tote!” (asymptote).

### Reviewers’ Favorite Jokes

Sol Lederman of Wild About Math said that *Math Jokes for Mathy Folks* is “117 pages of pure (vs. applied) fun. […] While I’ve heard a number of the jokes already, there were plenty of new ones to give me a chuckle.” He also said that the following joke — which does not appear in *MJ4MF* — happens to be his favorite:

A farmer was showing his fields to a mathematician and his wife. The mathematician made continual attempts to impress with his intellect, referencing arcane formulas and then doing computations mentally. Frustrated by this, the farmer decided to teach him a lesson. He took them to a field packed with hundreds of cows and said to the mathematician, “If you can guess the exact number of cows in this field, you can have all of them! But if you get it wrong, I get to sleep with your wife!”

The mathematician thought for a moment, his eyes quickly scanning the entire field. Finally he said, “228.”

The farmer was stunned. “How on Earth did you do that?” he asked. ”There’s no way you could have counted all those cows so quickly!”

“You’re right,” the mathematician replied. “‘I counted their legs and then divided by 4.”

A review of the book also appears on MAA Reviews by Fernando Q. Gouvea, who said, “Several jokes appear slightly differently from the way I’ve heard them, which is par for the course: jokes are folk literature, and they change as they move from one person to the next.” I couldn’t agree more. If you tell a joke, you should make it your own.

Dr. Gouvea went on to say, “…if you like mathematical jokes, you might enjoy having a copy,” and he said the following joke was his favorite:

Q: How many topologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Just one. But what will you do with the doughnut?

### Cats and Dogs

This joke makes it easy to see how teachers sometimes inadvertently confuse students…

Teacher: If I give you two dogs and then give you two more dogs, how many dogs will you have?

Johnny: Five!

Teacher: Not quite. Try again. If I give you two dogs and then give you two more dogs, how many dogs will you have?

Johnny: Five!

Teacher: Hmm, no. Let’s try this another way. If I give you two cats and then give you two more cats, how many cats will you have?

Johnny: Four.

Teacher: Excellent! So, if I give you two dogs and then give you two more dogs, how many dogs will you have?

Johnny: Five!

Teacher: I don’t understand! Why do you say that if I give you two cats and then two more cats, you’ll have four, but if I give you two dogs and then two more dogs, you’ll have five?

Johnny: Because we’ve got a dog at home!

My colleagues and I used to joke about the LCS teaching method. Don’t be embarassed if you’re a veteran teacher but have never heard of this method before. We made it up. The acronym LCS stands for Louder, Closer, Slower. There was, unfortunately, one teacher in our school who, if a student didn’t understand an explanation, would say the exact same thing over and over… but each time would move closer to the child, say the words in a louder voice, and speak more slowly.

It was difficult to watch these interactions. With each repetition of the explanation, the teacher would get more and more frustrated. Sadly, the student would get further frustrated, too, but the teacher would never notice! It was like watching an American tourist in France ask for directions!

Happily, I know that the majority of math teachers don’t abide by that method, so here’s a math poem for all you great teachers–

He’s teaching her arithmetic,

Because it is his mission.

He kissed her once, he kissed her twice

and said, “Now, that’s addition.”As he added smack by smack

In silent satisfaction,

She sweetly gave the kisses back

and said, “Now, that’s subtraction.”Then he kissed her, she kissed him,

Without an explanation,

And both together smiled and said,

“Now, that’s multiplication.”Then Dad appeared upon the scene and

Made a quick decision.

He kicked the boy out of the house

And said, “Now, that’s division!”