Posts tagged ‘professor’

As If Your Life Depends on It

It was early Wednesday morning (or late Tuesday night, depending on how you look at it) of Finals Week. Yes, I should have been studying — or sleeping; it was 3 a.m., after all — but I was young and in love, and wandering through the quads and into unlocked academic buildings on Penn State’s campus with my girlfriend held far more appeal than the problems and theorems in my linear algebra textbook. I remember a light snowfall and how beautiful she looked in the lamplight. I remember my surprise when I pushed on the main door to Sparks Building and it opened. But what I remember most from that night is a quote that a psychology professor had borrowed from a student’s paper and taped to her office door:

Many things depend on many things.


I don’t remember that girlfriend’s name. And I remember very little from my linear algebra course. But I’ll never forget that quote, and I’ve repeated it many times in business meetings.

de·pen·dent n. what hangs from de necklace

Dependence is a topic that rears its head frequently in mathematics, from algebra to probability, and it’s useful in a variety of contexts.

Football, for instance. Redskins safety David Bruton showed his understanding of dependence during a recent radio interview:

I’m between 225 and 230 [pounds], depending on what I had for lunch.

And measurement. Comedian Ron White understands dependence, too:

Now, I’m between 6’1″ and 6’6″, depending on which convenience store I’m leaving.

Some things aren’t really dependent at all…

The economy depends on economists in the same way that the weather depends on forecasters.

And some things are subjective…

Your true value depends entirely on what you are compared with.

Some things depend on whom you ask…

A teacher said to her student, “Billy, if both of your parents were born in 1967, how old are they now?”

After a few moments, Billy answered, “It depends.”

“On what?” the teacher asked.

“On whether you ask my mother or my father.”

And other things on your perspective…

How long a minute feels depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.

The location of an animal?

Where can you find polar bears?

Depends on where you lost them!

But the better answer to that joke is, “Just check their polar coordinates!” (You’re welcome.)

This post wouldn’t be complete without an obligatory old-person joke…

An old man is flirting with a woman at the senior center. He asks her, “If I took you out for a night of wining, dining and dancing, what would you wear?”

The old woman replies shyly, “Depends.”

And finally, one last math joke…

How many math professors does it take to plaster a wall?

Depends how hard you throw them.

June 20, 2016 at 7:17 am Leave a comment

Can’t Argue with That

My momma always told me:

Don’t break a person’s heart; they only have one. Break their bones; they have 206.

Who can argue with that logic? Here are some other logical statements with which you won’t want to argue, either.

I asked my wife what she wanted for her birthday. She said, “Nothing would make me happier than diamond earrings.” So, I got her nothing.

I find it strange that my advisor always begins conversations with me by saying, “You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you?”

It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full; either way, there is room for more alcohol.

I only drink twice a year: when it’s my birthday, and when it’s not.

My math teacher just fell in a wishing well. Go figure! I never knew they worked.

My advisor says I’ll never graduate because I’m lazy. But I just can’t take that kind of criticism. I was going to kill myself… but the gun’s, like, way over there.

Don’t judge a book by its cover… my math book has a picture of someone enjoying himself.

A grad student told his friend, “My girlfriend hates it when I sneak up behind her and kiss her on the cheek. But according to her lawyer, she also hates it when I call her my girlfriend.”

I got a tattoo of Chinese symbols on my arm that reads, “I don’t know. I don’t speak Chinese.” So when someone asks what it says…

Boy: I hate my math professor. He’s a terrible lecturer, he has bad breath, and he laughs at his own jokes.
Girl: Who’s your professor?
Boy: Dr. Jacoby.
Girl: Do you know who I am?
Boy: No.
Girl: I’m Dr. Jacoby’s daughter.
Boy: Do you know who I am?
Girl: No.
Boy: Good.

July 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

A Drummer Mathematician Walks Into A Bar…

The following message appeared in my spam folder, submitted in response to a post about the math of cousins:

Why do guitarists tell so many one-liners?
So the rest of the band can understand them.

I unspammed the message. Although it isn’t mathy and has absolutely no relevance to the post, who am I to censor humor?


Further, it reminded me of a collection of drummer jokes. Of course, they aren’t mathy, either, but most are pretty funny, and many of them can be made mathematical by replacing drummer with grad student, math professor, or something similar. So, here you go: A bunch of drummer jokes modified to be mathematical, with the original words appearing in parentheses.

(And if you find the jokes just aren’t funny, try this drum sound.)

A son tells his mother, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to go to graduate school (be a drummer).”
The mom scoffs and says, “Sorry, I don’t think you can do both.”

What’s the difference between a grad student (drummer) and a savings bond?
One will mature and make money.

How do you tell if a grad student’s desk (the stage) is level?
The grad student (drummer) is drooling from both sides of his mouth.

What do you call a grad student (drummer) that breaks up with his girlfriend?

How do you get a grad student (drummer) off of your porch?
Pay him for the pizza.

How many mathematicians (drummers) does it take to change a lightbulb?
Five: One to screw the bulb in, and four to talk about how much better Andrew Wiles (Neil Peart) could’ve done it.

How many grad students (drummers) does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but only after asking, “Why?”

A mathematician (drummer) died and went to heaven. He was waiting outside the Pearly Gates when he heard the most incredible exposition about mathematics (drumming). He immediately recognized the topic (playing) and asked St. Peter if Pierre Fermat (Buddy Rich) was giving the lecture (playing the drums). St. Peter responded, “No, that’s God. He just thinks he’s Fermat (Buddy Rich).”

What do you call a grad student (drummer) with half a brain?

What does a statistician (drummer) use for contraception?
His personality.

How is a bad math pun (drum solo) like a sneeze?
You know it’s coming, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

What do you call someone who hangs around with mathematicians (musicians)?
A grad student (drummer).

What did the grad student (drummer) get on his problem set (IQ test)?

Did you hear about the math professor (bass player) who locked his keys in his car?
He had to break the window to get his grad assistant (drummer) out!

I asked my grad assistant (a drummer) to spell Mississippi.
He said, “The river or the state?”

What do you call a dozen adjuncts (drummers) at the bottom of the sea?
A good start!

How many grad students (drummers) does it take to wallpaper a room?
Three, but you have to slice them really thin!

What should you call a grad student (drummer)?
It doesn’t matter. It’s not like they’ll listen.

What do grad students (drummers) and a mosquitoes have in common?
They both suck!

April 20, 2013 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

Back to Pencils, Books, Dirty Looks

The fall semester is underway. Here are some jokes for you, no matter your level.

Back to School

For professors…

Mathematical conferences are very important. They demonstrate how many faculty a department can operate without.

For graduate students…

Why is grad school like a hot bath?
Because after you’ve been there for seven years, it ain’t so hot anymore.

For undergraduates…

An undergraduate student said to his statistics professor, “You know, I hate being a full-time student and mooching off of my parents. I’d really rather have a job.”

The professor says, “You’re in luck! I just heard that the President of the University is looking for a bodyguard and chauffeur for his beautiful daughter. You’ll be expected to drive her around in his Mercedes, accompany her on overseas trips, and satisfy her sexual urges. He’ll provide all meals and supply all of your clothes. You’ll be given a two-bedroom apartment above the garage, and the starting salary is $75,000 per year.”

The wide-eyed student says, “You’re kiddin’ me?”

The professor replies, “Well, yeah… but you started it.”

And for high school kids…

“Why don’t you work on your math homework with Sarah anymore?” a mother asks her daughter.

“Would you do your homework with a lazy slug who just copies all of your work?” says the daughter.

“Well, no, I suppose I wouldn’t,” says the mother.

“Yeah, well, neither will Sarah.”

September 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

4 Jokes, Just For Fun

A random compilation of four unrelated jokes, just for fun…

Happy Face

Two math professors are exiting the subway when a panhandler asks them for some change. The first prof refuses in disgust. The second prof, however, opens his wallet and gives him a $5 bill. “What’d you do that for?” asks the first. “You know he’s just going to use it for booze.”

“And we weren’t?” says the second.

What do statisticians use for birth control?
Their personalities.

Three engineers on a desert island find a magic lamp. They rub it, and a genie pops out. “I’ll grant you each a wish,” says the genie.

The first engineer says, “I wish I had 25% more intelligence. Then I’d be smart enough to get off of this island.” The genie turns her into an accountant, and she swims off the island.

The second engineer watches this and says, “I wish I had 50% more intellignce. Then I’d be smart enough to get off this island.” The genie turns her into a statistician, and she makes a raft from trees and sails off.

Finally, the third engineer says, “I wish I had 100% more intelligence. Then I’d be smart enough to get off this island.” The genie turns her into a mathematician, and she walks across the bridge.

What’s the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a dead economist in the road?
There are skid marks before the skunk.

September 22, 2011 at 11:36 pm 1 comment

Funniest Joke in the World?

I once considered writing a book on how to tell a joke. Primarily, I wanted to write the book for my mother, who knew more jokes than anyone I’ve ever met, but whose delivery left a little to be desired. Ultimately, I decided against it, realizing there might be even less of a market for that book than there is for a collection of math jokes. In addition, I also thought my mother might be offended if I gave her a book on how to tell jokes and said, “Here, I think you should read this.”

Had I written the book, however, one tenet that I would have included is, make the joke your own. For instance, a great lawyer joke might be modified to poke fun of statisticians, in which case it might be more appropriate for the next math department social event.

Happy Face

Here’s a simple example of a modification. The following one-liner has recently gained notoriety:

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a mechanic.

But perhaps the following modification would fare better with a bunch of professors who are opposed to some states’ overly simplistic requirements for alternative certification of math teachers:

Going to school doesn’t qualify you to be a teacher any more than standing in a garage qualifies you to be a mechanic.

Of course, not every joke can be modified. Some jokes absolutely require a rabbi and a priest, and they wouldn’t be funny with a tortoise and a hare.

With my theories on stealing jokes, modifying them, and passing them off as your own in plain view, allow me to share two of my favorite jokes.

When Richard Wiseman attempted to identify the funniest joke in the world, a slightly different version of the following joke finished second in the voting. For quite some time, it actually held the lead.

A math professor and a graduate student are on a camping trip. After dinner, they retire to their tent for the night. Several hours later, the professor wakes up and nudges his student. He says to the student, “Look up at the sky, and tell me what you see.”

The student replies, “I see millions and millions of stars, sir.”

“And what do you deduce from that?”

The student thinks for a minute. “Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. Why, sir? What does it tell you?”

“You idiot!” the professor exclaims. “Someone has stolen our tent!”

The following is a modification of the world’s funniet joke, which Wiseman found to have universal appeal — it was judged equally fun by men and women, both young and old, from many different countries.

Late one night, two graduate students are working on a problem set. With the solutions due in the morning, both students are stressed. Suddenly, one of them grabs his chest and falls to the floor. He isn’t breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other student quickly dials 911. “I think my friend is dead!” he tells the operator. “What can I do?”

The operator says, “Calm down. I can help. First, are you sure that he’s dead?”

“Just a second,” he says, and puts down the phone. There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the student says, “Okay, now what?”

May 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Impossible Final Exams

The end of the semester is approaching. If you still haven’t prepared a final exam for your students, consider using the MJ4MF Final Exam (PDF). Those teaching in online college classes can send this exam to their students.

Alternatively, here are some questions you could use, depending on what course you’re teaching:

Geometry: Provide one real-life application of Ceva’s theorem that’s useful.

Algebra: From the real world, provide one example of a quadratic equation with integer coefficients that has integer solutions.

Analysis: Derive the Euler-Cauchy equation using only a straightedge and compass.

Biology: Create life.

Computer Science: Write a fifth-generation computer language. Using this language, write a computer program to finish the rest of this exam for you.

And here’s a mathy joke about final exams…

A mathematician, who had earned his PhD nearly 30 years ago, returned to the school from which he matriculated. He visited with the faculty in the math department, and they shared their exams with him. “Why, the questions on these tests are the same ones I answered when I was a student here!” he said.

“That’s true,” said one of the professors, “but the answers are all different.”

April 30, 2011 at 3:01 am Leave a comment

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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