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May 2006
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You Might be a Mathematician if ...
by Aubrey Jaffer

You Might be a Mathematician if ...

  • hypergeometric summations are the most fun you can have with your clothes on;
  • at the age of 19 your most productive years are behind you;
  • your major result will be named for someone else;
  • your fame lies in posing the question you can't answer;
  • you make mistakes ... but they are really interesting mistakes;
  • you wonder how Euler pronounced "Euclid";
  • you understand all the mathematics Gauss produced ... through age 13;
  • a copy of Russel's letter to Frege adorns your wall;
  • your major was Mathematics, minor Caffeine;
  • you know all of the Greek alphabet, but not a word of Greek;
  • You can recite Pretty Poly Nomial and Curly Pi from memory;
  • your correspondence has footnotes and bibliography;
  • irresistible little combinatorics puzzles keep appearing like a nervous tic;
  • unemployment is a welcome opportunity to make progress on your life's work.
  • your progeny are relieved to learn that Mathematics is not a heritable genetic trait;
  • the solution to every problem involves counting balls into boxes;
  • you cannot refrain from blurting out counterexamples when someone claims an impossibility;
  • you can fold planar strips into regular polyhedra ... entirely in your head;
  • doing something more than once is boring;
  • you suffer dental and gum disease because brushing teeth is boring;
  • because of your dental problems, mention of the word "calculus" raises mixed emotions;
  • you celebrate Rota's birthday decadently with donuts and champagne in paper cups;
  • you celebrate Erdös's birthday furtively with Benzedrine chased by a double espresso;
  • it is difficult to plan for retirement given the current state of the continuum hypothesis;
  • you remember postal addresses by means of number theory: "The smallest integer which is the sum of two cubes in two different ways";
  • you have calculated how many ways (ignoring reflections) there are of lacing your sneaker;
  • you count on your fingers in binary;
  • your romantic relationship is strained when you show too much interest in your beloved's mathematician acquaintances;
  • you have already obtained your next three years of reading material;
  • you know a six-letter word with three vowels, all of which are "y";
  • you learned French so you could read Bourbaki;
  • you bring Bourbaki's Varietes Differentielles Analytiques Fascicule de Resultats on vacation;
  • you don't bother taking vacations when you can read Bourbaki at home;
  • you visit Earth primarily for lectures and family obligations;
  • your opinion of A Beautiful Mind is "been there; done that."


Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2005 Aubrey Jaffer
http://swiss.csail.mit.edu/~jaffer/YMBAMI
This page was last updated May 1, 2006.

Richard Harter's World
Site map
Guest
Mathematics
May 2006
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Hyde County, South Dakota is the Pin Tail Duck Capital of the world. Visit scenic Highmore, SD in 2006!