Have a good joke? Share.
I know this is subjective, but the principle "should be of interest to mathematicians" trumps. (I hope.)
Have a good joke? Share. I know this is subjective, but the principle "should be of interest to mathematicians" trumps. (I hope.) 


Questions on MathOverflow are expected to relate to research level mathematics within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.
There's a Notices article on this. 


I've always thought that "What's the value of a contour integral around Western Europe?" "Zero. All the Poles are in Eastern Europe." was pretty good, although not laughoutloud funny by any means. Another one I personally like is "What's an anagram of BanachTarski?" "BanachTarski BanachTarski." It's not really a "joke," (and whether it's "mathematical" is, I suppose, debatable), but Knuth's article on the complexity of songs is pretty great. 


Tom Lehrer was a Mathematician and this comes through in several of his famous skits. Not precisely a "math joke", but still mathy and pretty darn funny. 


An excerpt from H. Petard, "A contribution to the mathematical theory of big game hunting," The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 45, no. 7, pp. 446447, 1938:



A mathematician in a job interview was asked, "We need to see what kind of attitude you have toward problem solving. So tell us, is the glass half empty or half full." His reply, "It's 1x." William Mauritzen 


"Finite Simple Group (of Order Two)" by the Klein Four a cappella group at Northwestern University (lyrics by Matt Salomone):



I received today this comment about a paper:



Based on the answers above, no. 


Q: How do you tell an extroverted mathematican from an introverted one? A: An extroverted mathematician stares at your shoes when talking to you. 


Q: How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb? A: One: she gives it to three physicists, thus reducing it to a problem that has already been solved. 


If somebody likes mathematical logic, category theory, lambda calculus, combinatory logic, then the following article can provide him/her jokes that are at the same time correct mathematical theorems: Ruehr, Fritz (2001). The Evolution of a Haskell Programmer. Willamette University. The article provides approaches to implement a mere Fibonacci function with such "overcalibrated" methods like harnessing deep metamathematical theorems (combinatory logic, category theory). Haskell is a programming language (named after the logician Haskell B. Curry). It has been developed by academia (not by industry or market), and most motivations behind its creation was cleanness and purity. And it is based directly on lambda calculus, type theory, combinatory logic. Many of the programmer practice in it is based on category theory and algebra. 


I like this one: A mathematican walks into a bar accompanied by a dog and a cow. 


Perhaps the question should be, not "Do good math jokes exist", but "are they unique"? 


I find the observation that the grade school carry operation from additionwithcarry forms a nontrivial degree 1 cocycle in the group cohomology of Z/10 a pretty good joke embedded in mathematics. 


Here's one I came up with a few years ago that I'm quite proud of.



Kurd Lasswitz, mathematician, writer, inventor of science fiction in Germany, wrote this "nth part of Faust" for the Breslau Mathematical Society 1882: "Personen: Prost am Tische, mit den Büchern beschäftigt. Er stärkt sich. Prost Habe nun, ach, Geometrie, Analysis und Algebra Zwar bin ich nicht so hirnverbrannt, 


A creation of my own: Q:What did the simplicial set say to the fibrant replacement functor? A:"Oh, I'm so horny..." 


As it would be impossible to prove that good math jokes don't exist I would have to say that the probability is better than zero. 


Ugh, why aren't these posted yet:
etc. 


Quite a few mathematics / academic jokes here. 





A swiftie. Most of you are probably too young to remember them... " $s = \displaystyle\int_a^b \sqrt{1 + [f'(x)]^2}\mathrm{d}x$ ", said Tom at length. 


"Why did the chicken cross the Mobius band?" The question isn't whether good math jokes exist, but whether they can be classified. The example above works because it plays on ones expectation of the "chicken crossing the road" jokes. Another one in the same vein, known as the shortest math joke: "Let epsilon<0." Another one, which I actually heard in class: "Take a positive integer N. No wait, N is too big; take a positive integer k." Here is a nonexhaustive classification of math jokes:
A joke can belong to more than one classification. For example, the "Dog and cow knot theorists" has both puns and a twist on expectations. By the way, I would exclude jokes which are purely made on stereotypes, like the above joke on extrovert mathematician, because I don't find it funny. I leave with one of my favorite metajokes: "How many members of a certain demographic group does it take to perform a specified task? A finite number: one to perform the task and the remainder to act in a manner stereotypical of the group in question." 


An engineer hears that a famous mathematician will be giving a public lecture, and always having a soft spot for math, he attends. The mathematician then talks at length about all sorts of amazing phenomena that happen in 17 dimensional space. The engineer, amazed at this mathematician's intuition for 17 dimensional space, goes up to him afterwards and asks 'How do you picture 17 dimensions?", to which the mathematician answers 'Oh, its easy. Just imagine ndimensional space, and set n equal to 17.' My dad (an engineer) loves that joke. 


This saying is attributed to someone from Bourbaki in Bourbaki's Art of Memory. 


What did the zero say to the eight? "Nice belt." 


Here are a few of my own inventions: Old Macdonald had a form; e_{i} /\ e_{i} = 0 Save the environment: use continuation passing style! What shape of pasta takes the least time to eat? Brachistochroni! You might be a mathematician if you think fog is a composition. The Yoda embedding, contravariant it is. How are Goethe's Faust novels like isomorphisms of sets? Dey're de monic epics. I'm kind of in two minds about this whole Schroedinger's cat thing... qwhine, n. selfrecrimination recursive: (λ damn. damn (damn)) (λ damn. damn (damn)) Coeschatology: the study of the beginning of times. The coend is ming! 


Mike's last joke reminded me of this one: a comathematician is a device for turning cotheorems into ffee. 


My favourite, from Eilenberg's obituary: When someone once asked Professor Eilenberg if he could eat Chinese food with three chopsticks, he answered, "Of course," according to Professor Morgan. The questioner asked, "How are you going to do it?" and Professor Eilenberg replied, "I'll take the three chopsticks, I'll put one of them aside on the table, and I'll use the other two." 


An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are driving through the high country in Scotland. Atop a hill, they see a black sheep. The engineer says: "All sheep are black!" The physicist says: "No, no, some sheep are black." The mathematician: "At least one sheep is black on at least one side." 

