Mathematical Humour

mathematical jokes | Vivax Solutions

A joke, made around mathematicians, by mathematicians and exclusively for anyone with a trace of sense of humour, is something for eternity, because, as the saying goes, mathematicians never die, they just lose some of their functions. Mathematical jokes, time and again, explicitly show that this particular tribe of clever folk do very little to prove that they do not live up to the corresponding stereotypes.

To their credit, however, we must say that mathematicians are often very quick thinkers, able to reach conclusions far faster than others. Then,they can see the humour in some jokes, but are easily bored by the routine or familiar. Last but not least, they often dismiss results that are obvious to themselves as “trivial”, even though the results may not be trivial to others.

 

 

The following joke vividly illustrates how the learned folk can effortlessly light up a meeting place - without fire:

One day a farmer called up an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician and asked them to fence in the largest possible area with the least amount of fence. The engineer made the fence in a circle and proclaimed that he had the most efficient design. The physicist made a long, straight line and proclaimed “We can assume the length is infinite…” and pointed out that fencing off half of the Earth was certainly a more efficient way to do it. The mathematician just laughed at them. He built a tiny fence around himself and said, “I declare myself to be on the outside.”

Humour in mathematics, does not exclusively belong to mathematicians. On the contrary, there are plenty of ordinary folk, who make their regular own contribution to the field that include teenagers who take mathematics as a serious subject at major exams.

 

 

Jokes at Your Fingertips...

 

 

There are instances when certain random observations by ingenious mathematicians bordered on subtle form of humour. The conversation between Srinivasa Ramanujan, the Indian mathematician and G H Hardy, the Cambridge mathematician, produced such a quip while the former was in hospital bed in Putney, West London in the early 20th century. In Hardy's words:
"I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. "No," he replied, "it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways."
1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103!
The story of mathematical humour - this is not the end...

 

 

Recommended Reading

 

Maths is challenging; so is finding the right book. K A Stroud, in this book, cleverly managed to make all the major topics crystal clear with plenty of examples; popularity of the book speak for itself - 7th edition in print.

Explore the Beauty of Maths

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