An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are trying to set up a fenced-in area for some sheep, but they have a limited amount of building material. The engineer gets up first and makes a square fence with the material, reasoning that it's a pretty good working solution. "No no," says the physicist, "there's a better way." He takes the fence and makes a circular pen, showing how it encompasses the maximum possible space with the given material.
Then the mathematician speaks up: "No, no, there's an even better way." To the others' amusement he proceeds to construct a little tiny fence around himself, then declares:
"I define myself to be on the outside."
A mathematician and a Wall street broker went to the races. The broker suggested they bet $10,000 on a horse. The mathematician was skeptical, saying that he wanted first to understand the rules, to look on horses, etc. The broker whispered that he knew a secret algorithm for the success, but he could not convince the mathematician.
"You are too theoretical," the broker said and bet on a horse. Sure enough, that horse came first, winning him a lot of money.
Triumphantly, he exclaimed: "I told you, I knew the secret!"
"What is your secret?" the mathematician asked.
"It is rather easy. I have two kids, three and five years old. I sum up their ages and I bet on number nine."
"But, three and five is eight," the mathematician protested.
"I told you, you are too theoretical!" the broker replied, "Haven't I just shown experimentally, that my calculation is correct! 3 + 5 = 9!"
A mathematician, a physicist, an engineer went again to the races and laid their money down. Commiserating in the bar after the race, the engineer says,
"I don't understand why I lost all my money. I measured all the horses and calculated their strength and mechanical advantage and figured out how fast they could run..."
The physicist interrupted him: "...but you didn't take individual variations into account. I did a statistical analysis of their previous performances and bet on the horses with the highest probability of winning..."
"...so if you're so hot why are you broke?" asked the engineer. But before the argument can grow, the mathematician takes out his pipe and they get a glimpse of his well-fattened wallet. Obviously here was a man who knows something about horses. They both demanded to know his secret.
"Well," he says, "first I assumed all the horses were identical and spherical..."
An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are staying in a hotel. The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trash can from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed. Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, trajectory, etc. extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy needed. Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes to the hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. He thinks for a moment and then exclaims,
"Ah, a solution exists!" and then goes back to bed.
A biologist, a physicist and a mathematician were sitting in a street cafe watching the crowd. Across the street they saw a man and a woman entering a building. Ten minutes they reappeared together with a third person.
"They have multiplied", said the biologist.
"Oh no, an error in measurement", the physicist sighed.
"If exactly one person enters the building now, it will be empty again", the mathematician concluded.
A mathematician is asked to design a table. He first designs a table with no legs. Then he designs a table with infinitely many legs. He spend the rest of his life generalizing the results for the table with N legs (where N is not necessarily a natural number).
A physicist, a mathematician, and a mystic were asked to name the greatest invention of all time. The physicist chose the fire, which gave humanity the power over matter. The mathematician chose the alphabet, which gave humanity power over symbols. The mystic chose the thermos bottle.
"Why a thermos bottle?" the others asked.
"Because the thermos keeps hot liquids hot in winter and cold liquids cold in summer."
"Yes - so what?"
"Think about it." said the mystic reverently. That little bottle - how does it know?"
A mathematician and his best friend, an engineer, attend a public lecture on geometry in thirteen-dimensional space.
"How did you like it?" the mathematician wants to know after the talk.
"My head's spinning", the engineer confesses. "How can you develop any intuition for thirteen-dimensional space?"
"Well, it's not even difficult. All I do is visualize the situation in arbitrary N-dimensional space and then set N = 13."
A mathematician is flying non-stop from Edmonton to Frankfurt with AirTransat. The scheduled flying time is nine hours.
Some time after taking off, the pilot announces that one engine had to be turned off due to mechanical failure: "Don't worry - we're safe. The only noticeable effect this will have for us is that our total flying time will be ten hours instead of nine."
A few hours into the flight, the pilot informs the passengers that another engine had to be turned off due to mechanical failure: "But don't worry - we're still safe. Only our flying time will go up to twelve hours."
Some time later, a third engine fails and has to be turned off. But the pilot reassures the passengers: "Don't worry - even with one engine, we're still perfectly safe. It just means that it will take sixteen hours total for this plane to arrive in Frankfurt."
The mathematician remarks to his fellow passengers: "If the last engine breaks down, too, then we'll be in the air for twenty-four hours altogether!"
An investment firm is hiring mathematicians. After the first round of interviews, three hopeful recent graduates - a pure mathematician, an applied mathematician, and a graduate in mathematical finance - are asked what starting salary they are expecting.
The pure mathematician: "Would $30,000 be too much?"
The applied mathematician: "I think $60,000 would be OK."
The math finance person: "What about $300,000?"
The personnel officer is flabberghasted: "Do you know that we have a graduate in pure mathematics who is willing to do the same work for a tenth of what you are demanding!?"
"Well, I thought of $135,000 for me, $135,000 for you - and $30,000 for the pure mathematician who will do the work."
A Statistics Department is hiring mathematicians. Three recent graduates are invited for an interview: one has a degree in pure mathematics, another one in applied math, and the third one obtained his B.Sc. in statistics.
All three are asked the same question: "What is one third plus two thirds?"
The pure mathematician: "It's one."
The applied mathematician takes out his pocket calculator, punches in the numbers, and replies: "It's 0.999999999."
The statistician: "What do you want it to be?"
A mathematician organizes a raffle in which the prize is an infinite amount of money paid over an infinite amount of time. Of course, with the promise of such a prize, his tickets sell like hot cake.
When the winning ticket is drawn, and the jubilant winner comes to claim his prize, the mathematician explains the mode of payment: "1 dollar now, 1/2 dollar next week, 1/3 dollar the week after that..."
"What is Pi?"
A mathematician: "Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter."
A computer programmer: "Pi is 3.141592653589 in double precision."
A physicist: "Pi is 3.14159 plus or minus 0.000005."
An engineer: "Pi is about 22/7."
A nutritionist: "Pie is a healthy and delicious dessert!"
At a conference, a mathematician proves a theorem.
Someone in the audience interrupts him: "That proof must be wrong - I have a counterexample to your theorem."
The speaker replies: "I don't care - I have another proof for it."
A group of mathematicians and a group of engineers are traveling together by train to attend a conference on mathematical methods in engineering. Each engineer has a ticket whereas only one of the mathematicians has one. Of course, the engineers laugh at the unworldly mathematicians and look forward to the moment the conductor shows up.
Suddenly one of the mathematicians shouts: "Conductor coming!"
All the mathematicians disappear into one washroom.
The conductor checks the ticket of each engineer and then knocks at the washroom door: "Your ticket, please."
The mathematicians stick the one ticket they have under the door, the conductor checks it and leaves. A few minutes later, when it is safe, the mathematicians come out of the washroom. The engineers are impressed.
When the conference has come to an end, the engineers decide that they are at least as smart as the mathematicians and also buy just one ticket for the whole group. This time the mathematicians have no ticket at all...
Again one of the mathematicians shouts: "Conductor coming!".
All the engineers rush off to one washroom. One of the mathematicians goes to that washroom, knocks at the door, and says: "Your ticket, please..."
Some engineers are trying to measure the height of a flag pole. They only have a measuring tape and are quite frustrated trying to keep the tape along the pole: It falls down all the time.
A mathematician comes along and asks what they are doing. They explain it to him.
"Well, that's easy..."
He pulls the pole out of the ground, lays it down, and measures it easily.
After he has left, one of the engineers says: "That's so typical of these mathematicians! What we need is the height - and he gives us the length!"
A mathematician, an engineer, and a computer scientist are vacationing together. They are riding in a car, enjoying the countryside, when suddenly the engine stops working.
The mathematician: "We came past a gas station a few minutes ago. Someone should go back and ask for help."
The engineer: "I should have a look at the engine. Perhaps, I can fix it."
The computer scientist: "Why don't we just open the doors, slam them shut, and see if everything works again?"
Two men are sitting in the basket of a balloon. For hours, they have been drifting through a thick layer of clouds, and they have lost orientation completely. Suddenly, the clouds part, and the two men see the top of a mountain with a man standing on it.
"Hey! Can you tell us where we are?!"
The man doesn't reply. The minutes pass as the balloon drifts past the mountain. When the balloon is about to be swallowed again by the clouds, the man on the mountain shouts: "You're in a balloon!"
"That must have been a mathematician."
"He thought long and thoroughly about what to say. What he eventually said was irrefutably correct. And it was of no use whatsoever..."
Several scientists were all posed the following question: "What is 2 × 2 ?"
The engineer whips out his slide rule (so it's old) and shuffles it back and forth, and finally announces "3.99".
The physicist consults his technical references, sets up the problem on his computer, and announces "it lies between 3.98 and 4.02".
The mathematician cogitates for a while, then announces: "I don't know what the answer is, but I can tell you, an answer exists!".
Philosopher smiles: "But what do you mean by 2 × 2?"
Logician replies: "Please define 2 × 2 more precisely."
The sociologist: "I don't know, but it was nice talking about it".
Behavioral Ecologist: "A polygamous mating system".
Medical Student : "4." All others looking astonished : "How did you know?" Medical Student : "I memorized it."