Book reviews: Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks and Easy as Pi

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks


A few months ago, Patrick Vennebush was kind enough to send me a review copy of his new book, Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. It’s a treasure-trove of math-related jokes with a huge range of material, from wordplay to lightbulb jokes to visual gags to longer stories, from elementary to graduate level mathematics, from corny to subtle. Truly there’s something here for everyone! Here are a couple of my favorites:

A statistics student accelerated before crossing every intersection. His passenger finally asked, “Why do you go so fast through intersections?” The student replied, “Statistically speaking, you’re far more likely to have an accident at an intersection, so I try to spend less time there.”

When the logician’s son refused to eat his vegetables, the father threatened him, “If you don’t eat your veggies, you won’t get any ice cream!” The son, frightened at the prospect of not having his favorite dessert, quickly finished his vegetables. After dinner, impressed that his son had eaten all his vegetables, the father sent his son to bed without any ice cream.

Patrick has also started a blog as an extension of the book, which “contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.” That would be me!

Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day

I also recently received a review copy of Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day, by Jamie Buchan. It’s a bit light on technical details for my tastes; but then again I have pretty weird tastes. Putting aside my personal love of rigor, it’s full of fun and interesting tidbits about the history, sociology, and math behind the numbers that show up all over the place in our culture. This is a great book to keep next to your toilet (and I mean that in the best possible way!) to intrigue your non-mathematical guests.

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About Brent

Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Hendrix College. Functional programmer, mathematician, teacher, pianist, follower of Jesus.
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