Halloween is just a day away, and (unless you’re under the age of 15) you probably haven’t given much thought to what you might wear as a costume.

What is a mathematician to do?

I’ve been brainstorming for ideas for mathematically-themed Halloween costumes [sadly, the “storm” has been more of a light mist at best], but here are a few thoughts:

The Mod Squad! Dress up as your favorite character from the iconic 60’s television series, featuring three groovy cats fighting crime on the streets of LA. [Short shameful confession: the inspiration for this Halloween costume post was seeing Batman’s implication that we should teach science using rap, wondering what the sixties version of that might have been, and then remembering that I myself had dressed up as Pete Cochran of the Mod Squad on the day of my number theory final as an undergrad. At the time I was puzzled that no one commented on the outfit, but then again, it was California, and many far stranger things happened on the streets and on campus to as little notice as possible.]

Or you could go political, choosing from a selection of “trig” puns:

Draw the first page of Trig Palin’s passport on a piece of cardboard and hang it around your neck. Voila! You’re a Trig Identity!

Dress up like a generic child. When asked, say you’re Sarah Palin’s youngest child’s doppelgänger. Yes, that’s right, a Trig Substitution.

sorry, uh, this isn’t a costume, but did you hear that if the McCain-Palin ticket wins the election, the Palin kids will be going to DC public schools? Yeah, that’s right. In a few years, it will lead to trig integration. (“Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week… try the veal…”)

One could always dress up as your favorite mathematician. (A trip to the costume store for powdered wigs if you’re thinking 17th C, or for ZZ-Top costumes if you’re thinking 19th C….)

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There are some ideas on Adler-n-subtract here and here. Some of his costumes were dressing as a lion covered in numbers (the number lion), wearing black except for a big “1” on the top of his shoulder (the 1 that gets carried or borrowed), wearing regular clothes with a hat that has a tree coming out the top (“Gee-I’m-a-tree!”), and a smushed angle (a wrecked-angle).

And on this site there’s mention of a butterfly costume for The Butterfly Effect.

I’m so angry at myself for not reading this yesterday! I totally would have gone to school as trig identity. That’s genius. What’s sad is that I was thinking: I should do something with “Trig” and I came up with nothing!

This year, I decided to go to my school as a beloved math teacher who retired last year. He taught in the school for like a million years, and was part and parcel of it. The best part is: it’s so easy. Because one of the many quirky things about him is that he wore a fanny pack to school every day. So I’m going to tuck in my t-shirt, put on two fanny packs, wear a “hello my name is…” sticker, and carry around a book on quantum physics. (He always was studying linguistics, higher level physics, or reading about the Vatican.) It’s not really “funny” or “clever” as much as an homage.

I was going to be really snarky and go to my school with trash attached to my clothes — a water bottle here, a straw wrapper there, and so on. And then when students ask me what I am, I would have answered “the student center.” (Students, in the recent past, have treated it really poorly and left messes that are not appropriate for the kitchen staff.) But there is a new initiative where kids are assigned duty periods to clean the student center, so I thought that costume might be in bad taste.

[…] Frankenstein has to do with polygons. Greater even than the mystery of how to come up with a good Math Halloween Costume. The mystery is: Do pumpkins have some strange connection with the number […]

My costume was simple. I followed the picture posted on her Wiki page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmy_noether. I had planned on making a costume to dress my dog up as an algebra over a ring (I was going to embroider the notation on a striped dog sweater), but I was too distracted with my quilt. One of these days I’ll put the costume on again and pose for a pic. 🙂

LOL…this was a fun post. How about turning yourself into a PI sign. Wear a horizontal hat and maybe a stuffed leg extention. Voila!!! your a walking pi.

Neat post. I always love to see people thinking outside of the box for Halloween or costume parties. I think it’d be cool to get a bunch of friends together and go collectively as a ma thematic formula or equation.

I am not dressing up this Halloween, but handing out candy is fun. This time of year reminds me of the Big Bang Theory episode where they all were fighting over who could be Flash, and one eventually dressed up as the Doppler effect.

I love that episode! Of course, I love every episode of the show. I bet you could easily come up with an equation with each person holding up a sign or wearing a t-shirt.

buy a big orange sweatshirt and a pumpkin hat. use a marker to write 3.14159… on the front of the sweatshirt. add a pillow for pumpkin-like stuffing. voila! you are pumpkin pi : )

October 30, 2008 at 5:23 am |

There are some ideas on Adler-n-subtract here and here. Some of his costumes were dressing as a lion covered in numbers (the number lion), wearing black except for a big “1” on the top of his shoulder (the 1 that gets carried or borrowed), wearing regular clothes with a hat that has a tree coming out the top (“Gee-I’m-a-tree!”), and a smushed angle (a wrecked-angle).

And on this site there’s mention of a butterfly costume for The Butterfly Effect.

October 31, 2008 at 5:50 am |

I’m so angry at myself for not reading this yesterday! I totally would have gone to school as trig identity. That’s genius. What’s sad is that I was thinking: I should do something with “Trig” and I came up with nothing!

This year, I decided to go to my school as a beloved math teacher who retired last year. He taught in the school for like a million years, and was part and parcel of it. The best part is: it’s so easy. Because one of the many quirky things about him is that he wore a fanny pack to school every day. So I’m going to tuck in my t-shirt, put on two fanny packs, wear a “hello my name is…” sticker, and carry around a book on quantum physics. (He always was studying linguistics, higher level physics, or reading about the Vatican.) It’s not really “funny” or “clever” as much as an homage.

I was going to be really snarky and go to my school with trash attached to my clothes — a water bottle here, a straw wrapper there, and so on. And then when students ask me what I am, I would have answered “the student center.” (Students, in the recent past, have treated it really poorly and left messes that are not appropriate for the kitchen staff.) But there is a new initiative where kids are assigned duty periods to clean the student center, so I thought that costume might be in bad taste.

Sam.

October 31, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

A fraction. Soo many students are afraid of them. 🙂

November 13, 2014 at 10:46 pm |

YES! But how do I dress like a fraction?

October 31, 2008 at 7:06 pm |

And yet their fears are irrational….

October 31, 2009 at 7:30 pm |

[…] Frankenstein has to do with polygons. Greater even than the mystery of how to come up with a good Math Halloween Costume. The mystery is: Do pumpkins have some strange connection with the number […]

November 1, 2009 at 11:26 am |

I went as Emmy Noether. Of course, nobody at the parties appreciated it, but ah well.

November 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm |

Ahava, what did your costume look like?

(Incidentally, the quilt that you made and show on your blog is beautiful!)

November 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm |

Thanks in regards to the quilt!

My costume was simple. I followed the picture posted on her Wiki page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmy_noether. I had planned on making a costume to dress my dog up as an algebra over a ring (I was going to embroider the notation on a striped dog sweater), but I was too distracted with my quilt. One of these days I’ll put the costume on again and pose for a pic. 🙂

January 11, 2010 at 5:15 pm |

LOL…this was a fun post. How about turning yourself into a PI sign. Wear a horizontal hat and maybe a stuffed leg extention. Voila!!! your a walking pi.

August 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm |

Neat post. I always love to see people thinking outside of the box for Halloween or costume parties. I think it’d be cool to get a bunch of friends together and go collectively as a ma thematic formula or equation.

I am not dressing up this Halloween, but handing out candy is fun. This time of year reminds me of the Big Bang Theory episode where they all were fighting over who could be Flash, and one eventually dressed up as the Doppler effect.

September 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm |

I love that episode! Of course, I love every episode of the show. I bet you could easily come up with an equation with each person holding up a sign or wearing a t-shirt.

February 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

Nice Ideas, as others say, it’s great to see people thinking about costumes from other angles – no pun intended!! (much).

October 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

buy a big orange sweatshirt and a pumpkin hat. use a marker to write 3.14159… on the front of the sweatshirt. add a pillow for pumpkin-like stuffing. voila! you are pumpkin pi : )