Posts tagged ‘statistician’
Go to Vegas, Saul
Saul is a statistician. He leads a comfortable life — he has tenure at a respected university, an impressive list of publications to his credit, and the admiration of his colleagues. Less than a year from retirement, he hears a voice from above. “Saul, quit your job,” the voice says.
He ignores it.
The next day, the voice returns. “Saul, quit your job.” And the next day. And the day after that. And it becomes more frequent, occupying most of his waking hours as well as his dreams. “Saul, quit your job.”
It continues relentlessly for months. “Enough already!” Saul shouts when he can take no more. He delivers a letter of resignation to his dean that morning.
“Saul, take your life savings out of the bank.”
I’m not taking out my money, Saul thinks. But the voice continues relentlessly. “Saul, take your life savings out of the bank.”
After several sleepless nights, he finally gives in. “Now what?” he asks.
“Saul, go to Vegas.”
He buys a ticket to Vegas. When he arrives, the voice tells him, “Saul, go to the blackjack table.”
He obeys.
“Saul, bet all of your money on one hand.”
“That’s insane!” he shouts.
“Saul, bet all of your money on one hand.”
He knows that the voice will continue if he doesn’t listen, so he does it.
He’s dealt an 8 and a king. 18. The dealer is showing a 6.
“Saul, take a card.”
“But the dealer has…”
“Saul, take a card.”
“But the laws of probability…”
“Saul, take a card!”
He takes a card reluctantly. It’s an ace. 19. He sighs relief.
“Saul, take another card.”
“C’mon!”
“Saul, take another card!”
He takes another card. Another ace. 20.
“Saul, take another card.”
“But I have 20!” he shouts.
“Saul, take another card!”
He shakes his head. “Hit me,” he says sheepishly. A third ace. 21.
And the voice booms, “Unfuckingbelievable!”
Career Changes
When I give math joke presentations, I bombard the audience with several groan‑inducing puns. When they can take no more, I admit to them that (a) stand‑up comedy is NOT my fulltime job and (b) I am not considering a career change. This admission usually provokes a collective sigh of relief from the audience.
I inform them, however, that I have several friends who recently changed careers.
I have a friend who used to be a statistician.
Now she’s a gynecologist.
Her specialty is histerectograms.I have a friend who used to be a combinatorist.
Now she is a hairdresser.
She works with combs and perms.I have a friend who used to be a high school math teacher.
Now he’s a densist.
He performs square root canals.I have a friend who used to be a geometer.
Now he’s a taxidermist.
His specialty is Fourier (furrier) transforms.I know a former inmate.
He became a poet.
Now he writes converse.I have a friend who used to be a transformational geometer.
Now he polishes mirrors.
He specializes in reflections.
As you might well imagine, telling an audience about these career‑changing friends usually elicits more groans. Go figure.
I particularly like this joke format, so I’ll offer a challenge to you: Create a joke about a careerchanging professional. Feel free to use the form below, use this Google Docs form, or place your joke in the Comments.
Points of Intersection
In sixth grade, I overheard two teachers talking about a new school policy. We had just moved into an elementary school that was four stories tall, and it was decided that any time a class needed to move between floors via the staircases, students should always stay to the right — “just as your parents do when driving on a road,” we were told.
One teacher said to another, “Given our principal, I’m surprised it isn’t up on the right, down on the left!”
Nothing like a little administrationbashing to cleanse the soul, eh?
I was reminded of this over the weekend, when my sons and I participated in Bike DC, a familyfriendly event in which thousands of riders were given the privilege of riding along the streets of Washington, DC, on a beautiful Sunday morning, during which the streets were closed to traffic. It was quite a thrill for Alex and Eli to ride in front of the President’s house. We turned around before the designated turnaround spot, but I was rather proud that my fiveyearold sons were able to log 7.5 miles.
Unfortunately, there was a problem with the course design. See map below.
We followed a simple outandback course along several major roads. As shown above, we went out via the blue line and returned via the green line. And just like driving, we spent the first several miles in the right lane. But as the blue line shows, we were asked to switch to the left side of the road at one point; then on the return trip, we were asked to switch again to the right side of the road. As indicated by the two red dots, this caused a problem — when you ask 10,000 bikers to cross each others’ paths, problems are bound to ensue. (You’ll note that two blue lines merge near the bottom of the map. Some bikers doing the full ride merged with those of us doing the family ride at this point.)
Today, I received an email from the ride organizers with the following explanation:
This was by far the biggest Bike DC yet, and some of the routing that had been adequate with a smaller ride was unsatisfactory for this larger group.
That made me chuckle. Crossing paths is never a good idea, with any size group. Even people who have never been very good with coordinate geometry know that nonparallel lines intersect. Parallel lines would have been a better option, unless the course was extremely long:
If parallel lines meet at infinity, then infinity must be a noisy place with all those lines crashing together!
The way to avoid the problem, as any statistician will tell you, is to pass through these points of intersection very quickly.
A statistician would always accelerate when coming to an intersection, fly through it, and then brake on the other side. A passenger asked him why he went so fast through intersections. The statistician replied, “Well, statistics show that more accidents happen at intersections, so I try to spend less time there.”
4 Jokes, Just For Fun
A random compilation of four unrelated jokes, just for fun…
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.
Stuck in the Middle With You — July 2
Today is an average day, exactly halfway between the beginning and end of the year.
Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry, often said he was born in Poland and educated in France — making him German, on average.
Average is something upon which hens lay their eggs. For instance, “My hens lay four eggs a week on average.”
When she told me that I was only average, she was just being mean.
A statistician with his head in the freezer and his feet in the oven will say that, on average, he feels fine.
Three statisticians go hunting. When they see a duck flying overhead, two of them take a shot. The first fires six inches over the duck; the second fires six inches under the duck; and, the third excitedly exclaims, “We got it! We got it!”
Conversation with a Statistician
Yesterday, I ran into a friend who’s a statistician. When I asked, “How’s your husband?” she responded, “Compared to whom?”
We chatted for a while, and she updated me on some recent research. Among the recent discoveries that she shared…
 Birthdays and cigarettes both improve health. Recent research has shown that people who celebrate the most birthdays live longest, and smokers are less likely to die of agerelated illnesses.
 A team of researchers has discovered that marriage is the leading cause of divorce. There is a signficant correlation between those who get married and those who get divorced. It is also well known that 50% of marriages end in divorce… which means that if you don’t file for divorce, your wife will.
 It was recently discovered that 83.638867% of statistics have an unjustified level of precision, and 78.46% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
She also relayed this recent incident at the Census Bureau.
Checking some questionnaires, a census clerk was amazed to note that one of them listed 121 in the space for “Age of Mother, if Living” and 125 in the space for “Age of Father, if Living.”
Incredulously, the clerk said to the survey taker, “Both of your parents are alive and over 120 years old?”
“Well, no,” replied the survey taker, “but they would be — if living!”
Questions Needing Answers
Inquiring minds want to know, so here are answers to questions that you’ve surely been pondering.
Q: If one man can wash one stack of dishes in one hour, how many stacks of dishes can four men wash in four hours?
A: None. They’ll all sit down together to watch football.Q: Why don’t members of the Ku Klux Klan study Calculus?
A: Because they don’t like to integrate.Q: What did the circle say to the tangent line?
A: “Stop touching me!”Q: Why did the statistician cross the interstate?
A: To analyze data on the other side of the median.
Working at NCTM
I am the Online Projects Manager at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. I love my job — I’ve been here for 6 years, and I’ll stay here another 60, if they’ll let me; I love my organization — I’m not yet 40 years old, but I’ve been a member almost half my life; and I love my colleagues. But working at NCTM has its share of, um, challenges.
Take the equipment we have in the building, for instance. Today, I selected “single‑sided” on the photocopier, and all of my copies were printed on Möbius strips.
Of course, my mathy colleagues cause problems, too. There are three types of people who work at NCTM: those who can count, and those who can’t.
About a year ago, a small fire started in one of the hallways. An engineer, a scientist, and a statistician — who were at NCTM headquarters attending a summit about the merits of always including three related professions in the setup of a joke — began debating the best way to extinguish the blaze.
“Dump some water on it!” the engineer suggested.
“No! Remove the oxygen!” said the scientist.
The statistician, however, started running around the building, starting fires in other locations. “What the heck are you doing?” the other two asked.
“Trying to create a decent sample size,” he said.
To put out the fires, a mathematician on staff brought them several buckets of water. The fires were extinguished one by one, but when they finished, there was an unused bucket of water. The statistician said to the mathematician, “Can you please get rid of that water?”
The mathematician proceeded to start another fire, and then he dumped the bucket of water on it.
“What’d you do that for?” the statistician asked.
“I reduced it to a previously solved problem,” said the mathematician.
More seriously, the following is a true story about NCTM.
The James D. Gates Building in Reston, VA, serves as the national headquarters for NCTM. In 1993, an addition to the building nearly doubled its size. In the area between the original structure and the addition, a courtyard was created, and a geometric design of circles and triangles was constructed on the floor of the courtyard with bricks and drainage pipes:
Long‑time members of NCTM might recognize the old NCTM logo:
Shortly after the building was expanded, however, it was learned that a number of publishing companies, eager to align themselves with NCTM after the release of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, began placing the NCTM logo directly on their products. Cease‑and‑desist letters were sent to the publishers asking them to kindly remove the logo from their materials — and NCTM was shocked when they said, “No!” As it turns out, the publishers’ lawyers had done their homework, and they learned that the NCTM logo had never been trademarked. As a result, there was nothing that NCTM could do to prevent them from using it.
Consequently, the NCTM logo was revised to the version we have today:
In the courtyard, we have a constant reminder of a bureaucratic blunder. As you’ll notice, the current logo has the ® symbol — and no one’s taken this one away from us, baby! Personally, I think the new one is better, anyway, with allusions to the infinity symbol; the letter x, as an algebraic variable; and a small child, which is a constant reminder that our profession is not just about numbers and shapes but about the lives we touch.
Kids’ Favorite Jokes
I have twin sons. They’re 3½ years old, and they love numbers. As shown below, they love calculators, too — Eli (on the left) prefers the TI‑73 Explorer, while Alex prefers the TI‑83 Plus.
They used to enjoy the Alpha‑Lock feature, because they could type their name, our address, and other words. But recently, they’ve been having fun entering expressions to see the result. Their grandpa called the other day, and when he heard they were playing with calculators, he started quizzing them with addition problems. (Understand, I have an issue with the boys “learning” their number facts with a calculator before they understand the concept. That said, I’m pretty sure they understand addition conceptually, and even if they don’t, who am I to prevent Pop Pop from having fun with his grandsons?) He began by giving them some onedigit addition problems: 2 + 3, 5 + 8, etc. They’d enter the expressions and then tell him the answer. (Usually, I’d cover the screen so they couldn’t see the answer, and I’d make them figure the answer in their head first.) Then he asked them, “What is 12 + 12?” Without entering anything, Alex said, “12 is 6 + 6, so 12 + 12 is 6 + 6 + 6 + 6.” He paused to think for a moment, then asked, “How much is four 6’s, daddy?”
“Holy crap,” I said to my wife. “He’s ready for multiplication!”
My wife rolled her eyes. “Easy there, tiger,” she said. “He’s only 3½.”
Then yesterday, Pop Pop called again and asked the boys, “Who wants to give me a math problem?” I could not have been prouder when Eli said,
What do you get when a bird crosses a zero?
Pop Pop was confused by the question until Eli shouted the answer:
A flying none!
(Actually, I suppose I could have been prouder had Eli said, “You can’t cross them, because zero is a scalar.”)
Alex then offered a joke as well:
What did 0 say to 8?
Nice belt!
It seems the rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the infested tree.
Anyway, here’s a math joke about twins…
A statistician’s wife gives birth to twins. Excitedly, he calls everyone to share the good news. When he calls the minister, the minister says, “That’s terrific! Bring them down to church this Sunday, and we’ll baptize them!”
“Uh, let’s just baptize one of them,” says the statistician. “We can keep the other one as a control.”
Get a Job!
When Career Cast rated 200 different jobs according to physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook, four of the top ten jobs for 2010 were math professions. Here’s the top ten, with the professions related to math highlighted in bold:
 Actuary – Interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters.

Software Engineer – Researches, designs, develops and maintains software systems along with hardware development for medical, scientific, and industrial purposes.

Computer Systems Analyst – Plans and develops computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions.

Biologist – Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment.

Historian – Analyzes and records historical information from a specific era or according to a particular area of expertise.

Mathematician – Applies mathematical theories and formulas to teach or solve problems in a business, educational, or industrial climate.

Paralegal Assistant – Assists attorneys in preparation of legal documents; collection of depositions and affidavits; and investigation, research and analysis of legal issues.

Statistician – Tabulates, analyzes, and interprets the numeric results of experiments and surveys.

Accountant – Prepares and analyzes financial reports to assist managers in business, industry and government.

Dental Hygienist – Assists dentists in diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of a group or private dental practice.
That’s right… actuaries, mathematicians, statisticians, and accountants are some of the highest paid, least stressed workers in the world, and they don’t pull muscles very often while doing their jobs. Mathy folks have known this for a long time. I’m glad the rest of the world is finally realizing it, too.
Q: What kind of insect is good at math?
A: An accountant.
The ratings for 2010 actually represent a slip for math professions compared to 2009, when the professions of actuary, statistician, and mathematician occupied the top three spots. Respectively, the median salaries for these professions were $85,229, $95,161, and $73,153.
I’m happy to see that math is represented so prominently on this list, because my suspicion is that math professionals are the secondmost ridiculed workers in jokes (behind lawyers and politicians, of course, who deserve all of the ridicule they receive and then some). Here’s a joke that makes fun of several professions simultaneously.
A politician, engineer, mathematician and statistician were driving down a steep mountain road. The brakes failed, and the car screamed down the road out of control. Inexplicably, the driver maintained control through the bottom of the hill, and when it reached flat ground, the car gently rolled to a stop. They all got out of the car, slightly shaken from the experience, but otherwise unharmed.
The politician said, “To fix this problem, we need to organise a committee, have meetings, write several reports, implicate the parties responsible for this failure, and enact laws to prevent this from happening again.”
The engineer said, “Such a process would take far too long. Besides, that method never works. I have my pen knife here, so I will take apart the brake system, isolate the problem, and correct it myself.”
The mathematician said, “Actually, I’ve seen this happen before, and I know a mechanic who can fix the brakes. We therefore don’t need to do anything, since I’ve proven that a solution exists.”The statistician said, “No – you’re all wrong! Let’s push the car back up the hill and see if it happens again. We only have an N of 1 here!”