## Favorite math jokes

For the discussion of math. Duh.

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Monika
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Cool non-tree tree!
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Moole
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Quizatzhaderac wrote:No so much a joke as a riddle:

When is a tree, not a tree?
Spoiler:
When it inosculates!

Alternate answer (specially designed for killjoys!):

When it's a connected, acyclic graph.

(It's true. Graphs aren't plants)

I'm going to submit my letter of resignation to the panel of "people who can take a joke" now...
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Flumble
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Moole wrote:(It's true. Graphs aren't plants)

Proving this (and you must — graphs may well be plants in disguise) may be done in a funny way. No need to resign just yet.
Spoiler:

As for a math joke: I can only repeat a few that I've heard before or a slight variation on them, so could someone enable the unique property on posts in this topic?
And write an algorithm to detect joke equality? And publish a paper proving or refuting that joke equality is transitive? And in case of a mathematician: first prove the general case that any information equality is transitive?

PM 2Ring
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

There was a non-tree tree at my high school (a Sydney red gum, IIRC). One day, I pointed it out to one of the maths teachers, saying "Clearly, this tree hasn't studied graph theory" (or words to that effect).

mathmannix
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

PM 2Ring wrote:There was a non-tree tree at my high school (a Sydney red gum, IIRC). One day, I pointed it out to one of the maths teachers, saying "Clearly, this tree hasn't studied graph theory" (or words to that effect).

How is it not "tree"-like? Is it a kind of tree that sends tentacles* down to become more trunks, like a banyan fig?

* - probably not the right word, but I like it...
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jestingrabbit
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Sometimes, the branches of trees (living green things) grow together to make loops. Trees (math jargon) are graphs without loops.
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender asks, "Would you all like a beer?"

The first logician says "I don't know."

The second logician says "I don't know."

The third logician says "Yes."

So, just to be clear, the third logician could have also said, "No, just for the other two logicians", right?
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Yes, I think so.
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Yakk
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender says "do you get this joke?"

The first logician says "I don't know".
The second logician says "I don't know".
The third logician says "I don't know".
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

A man walks out of Klein's bar.
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Tue May 19, 2015 2:21 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Flumble
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Klein's bar*

A man runs out of time.
Nothing happens.

(I know, I know, it's a physics joke, but it's geeky and it follows directly from the previous joke.)

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Did you hear about the physicist whose work was not only derivative, but derivative of someone who himself had stolen his work from a second scientist -- who stole his from yet a third?

What a jerk.
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f.point
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

One of those math professors they like to say: God only knows 5, I know of 4, and you, at best, you can get three, decided to
shocks kids, and gave them an unusual task, something like this:

"Imagine that you are, with 25 passengers on the bus, which was moving at 60 km / h, southwesterly, the temperature is +20 degrees, roadside creek flows
where the water temperature is +14, the driver missing two front teeth, and Saturday is ... How old am I? "

In the classroom, of course, silence, profiles are laughing triumphantly ...
Mali Perica raises two fingers, profa cynical - "Come on ..." and says:
"You're 44 years!"
"Bravo! How did you guess?"

"I just ... in our neighborhood has one Mika, he has 22, and they all say that it is a semi-idiot."

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

wat

f.point
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

The teacher John: John much is 8 + 8?
John: I do not know!
Teacher: Look - if in one hand I have 8 apples, and the other as 8 then what do I have?
John: Great hands teacher !!

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Jokes don't work as well when translated.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Eebster the Great wrote:Jokes don't work as well when translated.
As long as they're not puns, they work when translated well. F.point, unfortunately your English makes it difficult to tell what's odd because of the joke and what's odd because of your phrasing.

As best as I can tell, f.point's jokes should go like this in English:
Teacher: John, how much is 8+8?
John: I don't know!
Teacher: Look, if in one hand I have eight apples, and another eight in the other, then what do I have?
John: Big hands!

One day, a math professor decided to challenge their students and gave them an unusual problem:

A bus has 25 passengers;
it is traveling southwest at 60 km/h.
The temperature [of the air] is 20 C.
The temperature of the creek beside the road is 14 C.
The bus driver is missing two front teeth.
It's Saturday.
How old am I?

The class is silent, and the professor snickers triumphantly.
A student named Mali raises their hand.
Professor: Yes?
Mali: 44!
Professor: Bravo! How did you guess?
Mali: There's a guy in my neighborhood called Mika, he's 22 and everyone says he's a half-idiot, so I multiplied by two to get a full idiot.
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Whizbang
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

One day, a math professor decided to challenge their students and gave them an unusual problem:

A bus has 25 passengers;
it is traveling southwest at 60 km/h.
The temperature [of the air] is 20 C.
The temperature of the creek beside the road is 14 C.
The bus driver is missing two front teeth.
It's Saturday.
How old am I?

The class is silent, and the professor snickers triumphantly.
A student named Mali raises their hand.
Professor: Yes?
Mali: 44!
Professor: Bravo! How did you guess?
Mali: There's a guy in my neighborhood called Mika, he's 22 and everyone says he's a half-idiot, so I multiplied by two to get a full idiot.

It is a play on a joke where you start out saying "You are driving a bus with X passengers..." and proceed to throw a bunch of numbers at the other person then finish off with "How old is the bus driver?" to which the other person replies, "How should I know that?" then the jokester can shout "'Cuz you're the driver! HAHAHA"

The joke, in this version, is about a teacher who says "You are driving a bus" but asks "How old am I?" and therefore messed up the joke, then has a clever kid call him out on it.

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

I actually kind of got the jokes (though I hadn't heard the question it was playing off of, asking "how old are you?"), but the part that confused me the most was the first line:
f.point wrote:One of those math professors they like to say: God only knows 5, I know of 4, and you, at best, you can get three

(Also, I'm not sure the "semi-idiot" thing works in English. Never heard that term before.)

Whizbang
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

I think it just means he is an extremely arrogant teacher.

I am not sure about the half/semi idiot thing. It works for me as "half and idiot" but I am not sure I've ever heard that term before.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

@Eebster:
f.point wrote:One of those math professors they like to say: God only knows 5, I know of 4, and you, at best, you can get three
My best guess is "God only knows five things; I know four; you can maybe to to three." Meaning that you don't know nearly as much as you think you do.
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f.point
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

f.point wrote:One of those math professors they like to say: God only knows 5, I know of 4, and you, at best, you can get three
My best guess is "God only knows five things; I know four; you can maybe to to three." Meaning that you don't know nearly as much as you think you do.

primary school students' knowledge assessment :
5 - best score
4 - very good
3 - good
2 - A little knowledge
1 - ignorance

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Ah, so it's a teacher who never gives good scores and expects lots of people to fail.

Tirian
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

My favorite undergrad math professor was like that. His final in combinatorics was a four question take-home exam worth ten points each, but the cumulative score was capped at thirty points. So he could reserve 10's for the sort of work that he was capable of writing and 7-8 points for the work that he thought was worthy of A students in his class and so on down the line. Even to this day, I enjoy reading his highly critical feedback on my test that got 33/30 because he was absolutely right that my work was that of a novice with potential.

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Why not just score it out of 40 and grade on a curve? My general topology midterm was something like 40% but still worth a B-.

Yakk
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoiler:
Because grading on a curve doesn't distinguish sufficiently between "acceptable work" and "awesome work"?

Because your skill relative to your classmates is a useless measure in terms of knowing how well you know the tested material? (unless you assume classmates are, on average, uniform between classes, and "classes" are large)

Grading can be justified with a few reasons. It provides feedback to the student: getting an 8/10 with information on how to do it better is, in a sense, more information than a 10/10 (where you are saying you 'cannot be doing it better' in a sense).

It provides a means to quantify how well you are doing relative to other students. (This is what grading on a curve is good for, assuming your curve is derived by other student performance, not always the case), both in the class, between classes, and between courses.

It provides a way to generate an aggregate score describing how well you have mastered the material.

It provides an evaluation of how good you are at learning that kind of material.

Grade-inflation (as is now the fashion) reduces the usefulness of much of the above.

If a 60% is an acceptable grade, and the average assignment gets a 70%, then there is lots of room to highlight exceptional performance.

If a 80% is an acceptable grade and the average assignment gets a 90%, then there is nearly no room to highlight exceptional performance.

By leaving "headroom" you can maintain a consistent marking scheme (where your performance is not in competition with others), give students who actually solve the problem an 8/10 (so if you know you solved all 4 problems, you'll get perfect), yet leave some room for exceptional performance (come up with a beautiful solution better than the prof thought up, and you'll get a 10/10 on that question) to matter.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoiler:
Because grading on a curve doesn't distinguish sufficiently between "acceptable work" and "awesome work"?

Because your skill relative to your classmates is a useless measure in terms of knowing how well you know the tested material? (unless you assume classmates are, on average, uniform between classes, and "classes" are large)

Grading can be justified with a few reasons. It provides feedback to the student: getting an 8/10 with information on how to do it better is, in a sense, more information than a 10/10 (where you are saying you 'cannot be doing it better' in a sense).

It provides a means to quantify how well you are doing relative to other students. (This is what grading on a curve is good for, assuming your curve is derived by other student performance, not always the case), both in the class, between classes, and between courses.

It provides a way to generate an aggregate score describing how well you have mastered the material.

It provides an evaluation of how good you are at learning that kind of material.

Grade-inflation (as is now the fashion) reduces the usefulness of much of the above.

If a 60% is an acceptable grade, and the average assignment gets a 70%, then there is lots of room to highlight exceptional performance.

If a 80% is an acceptable grade and the average assignment gets a 90%, then there is nearly no room to highlight exceptional performance.

By leaving "headroom" you can maintain a consistent marking scheme (where your performance is not in competition with others), give students who actually solve the problem an 8/10 (so if you know you solved all 4 problems, you'll get perfect), yet leave some room for exceptional performance (come up with a beautiful solution better than the prof thought up, and you'll get a 10/10 on that question) to matter.

Spoiler:
Your work is always compared to your peers or to an arbitrary standard. "87 percent" is not a meaningful score in any sense, it is just a number. It can be exceptional or terrible depending on the test. Comparing your score to classmates is more meaningful than a number in a vacuum.

Nobody curves tests up to 100%. They show you the raw score and then give you a grade based on the mean raw score of the class and standard deviation. At least I hope they do that. If you're a math teacher and that's not how you curve your grades, you're doing it wrong. But regardless, as long as they mark wrong answers wrong, the number you ultimately get on the top of the test won't stop you from improving.

And the idea of giving nobody an A (even if they answered every question correctly) because by your impossible standard you don't think they deserve it seems to me more about ego than hoping somebody will be better-than-perfect.

But that's just me.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Eebster the Great wrote:
Spoiler:
Because grading on a curve doesn't distinguish sufficiently between "acceptable work" and "awesome work"?

Because your skill relative to your classmates is a useless measure in terms of knowing how well you know the tested material? (unless you assume classmates are, on average, uniform between classes, and "classes" are large)

Grading can be justified with a few reasons. It provides feedback to the student: getting an 8/10 with information on how to do it better is, in a sense, more information than a 10/10 (where you are saying you 'cannot be doing it better' in a sense).

It provides a means to quantify how well you are doing relative to other students. (This is what grading on a curve is good for, assuming your curve is derived by other student performance, not always the case), both in the class, between classes, and between courses.

It provides a way to generate an aggregate score describing how well you have mastered the material.

It provides an evaluation of how good you are at learning that kind of material.

Grade-inflation (as is now the fashion) reduces the usefulness of much of the above.

If a 60% is an acceptable grade, and the average assignment gets a 70%, then there is lots of room to highlight exceptional performance.

If a 80% is an acceptable grade and the average assignment gets a 90%, then there is nearly no room to highlight exceptional performance.

By leaving "headroom" you can maintain a consistent marking scheme (where your performance is not in competition with others), give students who actually solve the problem an 8/10 (so if you know you solved all 4 problems, you'll get perfect), yet leave some room for exceptional performance (come up with a beautiful solution better than the prof thought up, and you'll get a 10/10 on that question) to matter.

Spoiler:
Your work is always compared to your peers or to an arbitrary standard. "87 percent" is not a meaningful score in any sense, it is just a number. It can be exceptional or terrible depending on the test. Comparing your score to classmates is more meaningful than a number in a vacuum.

Nobody curves tests up to 100%. They show you the raw score and then give you a grade based on the mean raw score of the class and standard deviation. At least I hope they do that. If you're a math teacher and that's not how you curve your grades, you're doing it wrong. But regardless, as long as they mark wrong answers wrong, the number you ultimately get on the top of the test won't stop you from improving.

And the idea of giving nobody an A (even if they answered every question correctly) because by your impossible standard you don't think they deserve it seems to me more about ego than hoping somebody will be better-than-perfect.

But that's just me.

Spoiler:
If they answer all the questions correctly, then they should of course get an A. In fact they should get 100%, because that is how well they did.

The problem I have with grading on a curve is that you are compared to your current classmates only - so if you are in a good class you would get the same mark as someone who is strictly worse than you but is in a worse class overall.

I mean, the perfect example is your 40% giving you a B-. If you had been in a class with a people who were better at your course, then you wouldn't have gotten the B-. But people looking at your B- don't know how good the rest of the class is.

This can be helped by looking at the actual percentages, which a lot of places do anyhow.
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoiler:
Your in-class peers are a nearly useless measuring stick, unless they are both a large cohort and detectably uniform between years, unless your goal is a zero-sum competition.

Say, you are the only accreditation for a nearly completely inelastic set of job opportunities. Then there is an actual "real world" zero-sum component to your evaluation: what actually matters is your relative competence, not your absolute competence. So doing a zero-sum competition in your class makes sense.

Otherwise, you are doing the "price of gold" vs "price of money" problem: sure, your grade now (through often a secret formula) reflects your relative competence against the rest of your class, instead of a measure against some absolute competence bar that isn't known. But the meaning of the grades ends up being a measure of that formula, plus the supply of competent people for your class, more than your own competence.

A robust testing framework would involve large cohorts and inter-cohort questions that allow for cross-cohort score normalization.

However, for most people, the actual percentage grade of your marks don't matter all that much, other than at a few points. Passing and failing matters (sometimes there are multiple passing grades), as does the knowledge you learn. A few people go on to graduate/med school (for whom marks are over-weighted: even then, recommendations can and will trump grades, and inter-institution grades are even done which is even more stupid than belled grades at determining quality of a student).

So the signaling of grades to student seems to me more important than the relative evaluation system. And if a class is actually teaching something needed (say, for a later course), there should be some absolute bar you have to reach in order to be considered capable for that later course (not a relative one). (ie, mastery based evaluation) If relative evaluation is needed, listing it as a separate score (your percentile in your cohort) seems more honest than some cohort-determined belling function.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoiler:
The issue of only comparing to classmates is mitigated with larger class sizes, as variance between classes decreases with larger numbers. But even without curving, the issue isn't gone completely. Different teachers teaching the same course or even the same teacher teaching the same course in different classes will have different questions on tests, different explanations of topics, different class dynamics, etc etc.

On the other point, I think 100% is a completely reasonable mark for a student who meets all reasonable expectations for a student at their level. Not being able to discern amongst students who far exceed is not a worrying point for me. Those students should be addressed with separately via means other than their report card grade.

Combining the two, I don't see a big problem with having a fixed adjustment (ie curving over all classes), eg designing tests so that a strong student would get 80 but then adding 20% to everyone.
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoiler:
Tirian wrote:My favorite undergrad math professor was like that.
The big difference being that your professor designs a test he doesn't expect anyone to get more than 30 on and then grades out of 30. F.point's hypothetical professor designs a test that he doesn't expect anyone to get more than 30, then laughs at you as he grades out of 40.
Eebster the Great wrote:Your work is always compared to your peers or to an arbitrary standard.

Two big things:

First) Relevant "peers" could be very far removed from your own class. For instance, the vast majority of people worldwide who pass a college level topology course know the four color theorem. If a professor creates a new test that requires knowledge of the four color theorem, and most of the class fails, that could very well indicate the population of people taking this specific test have a poor understanding of topology relative to any larger standard you'd care to use.

Second) It's always possible to set a non-arbitrary standard of knowledge on any non-arbitrary topic. Of course, it's still possible to fail and end up with an arbitrary standard. Take a class in automotive maintenance: To pass you're required to be able to change your oil and put on a spare tire; there will be differences in ability, but we can meaningfully categorize people into those who can change a tire and those who can't.
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Tue May 26, 2015 12:41 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Tirian
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

As a teacher candidate, I have to say that I really appreciate this conversation. And I apologize for my role at starting it in a thread that is supposed to be about jokes.

So, uh, hey, what's purple and commutes?

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Tirian wrote:So, uh, hey, what's purple and commutes?

An aubergine troupe.
wee free kings

Eebster the Great
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

A class on an abstract topic is necessarily going to have a hard time assigning grades in an objectively meaningful manner. Topology is not like car maintenance, and "understanding" a theorem is not like changing a tire. So you want to assess people on their knowledge of the four-color theorem. Fine. How do you do that? What qualifies as sufficient understanding? What sorts of questions applying that theorem are fair? How do you know if your class this year scored lower than last year because they were not as good or because the questions were harder?

No matter what, there will be enormous uncertainty in grades. However, at least a curve gives some standard for comparison, as opposed to none at all.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoilered for OT.
Spoiler:
going to have a hard time assigning grades in an objectively meaningful manner.
Agreed, but you're still jumping from hard to impossible. This also need not be done by each professor for each offering of a course, in absence of formal education-education, in a vacuum from the greater academic environment. In practice, a well prepared professor from a stable institution has access to a great deal of information about what students of a particular course should know, backed up by even more information on the why of it that the professor doesn't personally need to know.
"understanding" a theorem is not like changing a tire
Correct, changing a tire is a much more nebulous concept and the full complexities involved in affixing a tire greatly outstrip the four color theorem.

I assume you meant to imply understanding could be interpreted many different ways. It definitely has several meanings, and anyone designing a topology course would have to pick which ones to teach and decide how important they are. In this way designing a topology course is more complicated than an automotive maintenance course, but it's not impossible; and it doesn't come down to the professor rambling about miscellaneous topology, testing random aspects, then being unable to tell if the difference between combined raw scores of 95 +/-1 and 30 +/- 11 are random chance or not.
How do you know if your class this year scored lower than last year because they were not as good or because the questions were harder?
Because similar, if not identical, questions have been asked before. This is also ignoring the same course being taught multiple times each year, by multiple instructors with the questions only varying superficially, which definitely happens.
However, at least a curve gives some standard for comparison, as opposed to none at all.
This is a case of some versus some, not some versus none. By simplifying (imperfect absolute) to (none), you're implicitly assuming your answer.

In the other extreme: Supposes an entire class decides to boycott an exam. They all get a zero raw score, and a C grade. A literal rock enrolled in the course would have gotten a passing grade. (Fun fact, I once had a philosophy professor that did something similar, he offered to give everyone in an ethics class As in they uniformly boycotted). If this always happened Gaussian curves would always be a bad idea.

Of course this doesn't always happen, so the question is how often this happens, or rather, how often there's a systemic issue. With everything weighted properly, a Gaussian curve could be the best answer, or a comparison to a broader group might be, or a comparison to an absolute metric of the subject material.
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:23 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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### Re: Favorite math jokes

Sizik wrote:Yeah, the programmer part was kind of not thought out well enough, since I didn't want to have only two people go into what was originally a doughnut shop.
A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender says: "I'm sorry, I can't serve you without a third guy"
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### Re: Favorite math jokes

The first paragraph of the latest Good Math, Bad Math post seems relevant to this thread:

Good Math, Bad Math wrote:Yesterday, a friend of mine from my Google days, Daniel Martin, sent me a link, and asked to write about it. Daniel isn’t just a former coworker of mine, but he’s a math geek with the same sort of warped sense of humor as me. He knew my blog before we worked at Google, and on my first Halloween at Google, he came to introduce himself to me. He was wearing a purple shirt with his train ticket on a cord around his neck. For those who know any abstract algebra, get ready to groan: he was purple, and he commuted. He was dressed as an Abelian grape.

krogoth
Posts: 411
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:58 pm UTC
Location: Australia

### Re: Favorite math jokes

Spoiler:
I used to have a teacher in primary school that gave NP's for good work (nearly perfect) because nothing was ever perfect.
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

brenok
Needs Directions
Posts: 507
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:35 pm UTC
Location: Brazil

### Re: Favorite math jokes

krogoth wrote:
Spoiler:
I used to have a teacher in primary school that gave NP's for good work (nearly perfect) because nothing was ever perfect.
Is there a joke here?