So, a horse walks into a bar…


With the crunch that is the end of any semester fast approaching (wait, it’s here!), I figure it’s time for a dose of math humor. Yes, mathematicians have just as good a sense of humor as anyone else. For example:

  • A physicist, a biologist, and a mathematician are sitting on a street corner observing a vacant house across the street. They see two people enter, then a short while later, three people leave. The physicist says, “There was an error in the measurement.” The biologist says, “They must have reproduced.” The mathematician says, “Now if one more person enters the house, it will be empty!”
  • What’s purple and commutes? An abelian grape.

See? (OK, maybe the humor’s a little specialized, but it’s still, you know… funny.)

MathWorld has a humor index, and Wikipedia has an entry on the mathematical joke. A Google search for “math joke” turns up 2.1 million hits.

What I want to know is: What’s your favorite math joke? Leave a comment (or two or three or…) and give us all a good laugh.

[Note: Puns and other “bad” jokes are strongly encouraged, as long as there’s a hint of math in them.]

22 Responses to “So, a horse walks into a bar…”

  1. TwoPi Says:

    How do you tell an introverted mathematician from an extroverted one?

    An introvert stares at their own shoes while talking with you; an extrovert stares at YOUR shoes while talking with you.

  2. TwoPi Says:

    [I told this one at a mathematician’s wedding reception…]

    A priest, a playboy, and a mathematician are debating the relative merits of marriage versus philandering.

    The priest argues that it is best for one to be married, for all the expected reasons. The playboy argues that it is best to not be married, but to have a lover, again, for all the expected reasons.

    The mathematician tells them they’re both wrong, that it in fact it is best to have both a spouse AND a lover.

    That way, when you’re not with your lover they’ll assume you’re with your spouse; when you’re not with your spouse they’ll assume you’re with your lover; and that frees up more time for doing mathematics!

  3. Ξ Says:

    [I told this one at a mathematician’s wedding reception…]

    Glad you weren’t best man at MY wedding! [j/k!]

    Here’s one:
    Q: What do you call a baby eigensheep?
    A: A lamb, duh!

    (Oops, I just noticed that that is on the Wikipedia page too! My favorite on the page is the Base 8, Base 10 one:
    Q: Why do mathematicians think Halloween and Christmas are the same?
    A: Because 31 Oct = 25 Dec)

  4. TwoPi Says:

    Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: One! They go off to ask twelve physists, or two lawyers, or three airline pilots, or….etc. to do it for them.

  5. Batman Says:

    Two with a similar theme.

    Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a banana?
    A: (Elephant)(banana)sin(theta).

    Q: What do you get when shoot a mountain climber with an arrow?
    A: You can’t cross a vector with a scalar!

  6. PlusC Says:

    Math problems? Call 1-800-[(10x)(13i)2]-[sin(xy)/2.362x].

  7. Alpha Says:

    Q: What do Greek cows say?
    A: “muuuu”

  8. infinity Says:

    So a bunch of math functions have a party. It seems, though, that e is just standing in a corner, so sine decides to go over and try to get him involved

    Sine: What’s the matter, e? This is a GREAT party! Why don’t you try to integrate yourself?

    e: Why should I? It wouldn’t matter anyway!

  9. wizard Says:

    there are three types of people in this world: those who can count and those who cant

  10. Alpha Says:

    There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand bianary, and those who don’t.

  11. Batman Says:

    Let’s not forget the shortest math joke ever:

    Let epsilon < 0.

  12. PlusC Says:

    Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?

    A: Pumpkin Pi!

  13. PlusC Says:

    “Statistics shows that most people are abnormal!”
    “How that?”
    “According to statistics, a normal person has one breast and one testicle…”

  14. TwoPi Says:

    Q: What’s it called when two musicologists carefully consider the timbre of a musical instrument?

    A: Four-ear analysis. [“Fourier analysis”]

  15. TwoPi Says:

    [horrid one-liner gotten from two jugglers performing at the Sterling Renaissance Festival in summer 2006 {sorry guys — wish I could remember your names to give “credit” for this groaner}]

    From the growing list of comments on this post, apparently math jokes are quite a popular topic.

    But then again, that stands to reason. After all…

    …there is nothing greater than…

    …or equal to…

    a math joke. [ba-Dump!]

  16. Batman Says:

    I can’t believe I forgot this one!

    Q: Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?
    A: To get to the…um…

  17. PW Says:

    Q: What’s an anagram for Banach-Tarski?
    A: Banach-Tarski Banach-Tarski

  18. Our 100th Post!!! « 360 Says:

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  19. Alane Tentoni Says:

    OK — it’s corny, but everytime I read it, I bust out laughing. 😀

    A mathematician went insane and believed that he was the differentiation operator. His friends had him placed in a mental hospital until he got better. All day he would go around frightening the other patients by staring at them and saying “I differentiate you!”

    One day he met a new patient; and true to form he stared at him and said “I differentiate you!” but for once, his victim’s expression didn’t change. Surprised, the mathematician marshalled his energies, stared fiercely at the new patient and said loudly “I differentiate you!”, but still the other man had no reaction. Finally, in frustration, the mathematician screamed out “I DIFFERENTIATE YOU!”

    The new patient calmly looked up and said, “You can differentiate me all you like: I’m e to the x.”

    To which the mathematician exclaimed, “Yeah, but I’m d/dy!”…and poof, the new patient was gone!

  20. Ξ Says:

    Excellent Alane — I’d heard that joke without the last line, and loved the surprise ending!

  21. 360 (+5) Days of 360 « 360 Says:

    […] post regularly (Friday Software Reviews, anyone?). Right. My favorite post, though, has to be the jokes. It remains our most commented post of all time, and I certainly picked up a few new groaners to […]

  22. Math Teachers at Play #8 is up! « 360 Says:

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