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.”
http://swiss.csail.mit.edu/~jaffer/YMBAMI This page was last updated May 1, 2006. |