Math Is Funny

Robert Charles Vaughan at Workshop: Analytic N...
Dr. Vaughan, circa 2008. Photo via Wikipedia.

While perusing the internet or possibly the Twitter today (I forget), I stumbled on a rather hilarious list of quotes made by Dr. R. C. Vaughan of Pennsylvania State University during his spring 2012 Analytic Number Theory class.

Dr. Vaughan – whose professional website can be found here – is a number theorist and has had well over 100 papers published since 1970. He also has an Erdős number of 1! Very cool. Clearly, he seems to be a man who knows a little something about Number Theory.

For the record, I have never met Dr. Vaughan, nor have I read any of his works1. Regardless, the list of quotes make me want to sit in on one of his lectures, because he seems like a rather hilarious instructor. And anyone that can present math with a bit of humour is awesome in my books.

Anyway, I have no idea who recorded all of these quotes but I thought I would share them with you nonetheless. I found myself giggling to some, and laughing out loud to others. My favourites include:

  • Statisticians would throw up their arms, but that’s their problem.
  • I’m going to assume that your know everything there is to know about the Gamma Function.
  • This 2 may not be quite 2.
  • …”centered”… that’s the American spelling. I must be infected.
  • That’s why I became a professor; I wanted to waste my whole life.
  • In America, if someone’s a lousy professor, you want to make them a professor as soon as possible so they’re only teaching grad students.
  • Pronouncing Dutch names is worse than pronouncing anything else

And my personal favourite:

  • “Clearly” – It’s a good word to use when it’s complicated and you don’t want to explain it.

I think I’m going to remember this particular quote every time I read or use the word clearly in an article.


1 At least not that I’m aware.


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