WHAT'S OUT AND WHAT'S IN FOR MATHEMATICAL TERMS Today it is considered an egregious faux pas to speak or write in the crude antedated terms of our grandfathers. To assist the isolated student and the less sophisticated teacher, I have prepared the following list of currently fashionable mathematical terms in academia. I pass this list on to the general public as a matter of charity and in the hope that it will lead to more refined elucidation from young scholars. OUT IN thinking: hypothesizing. proof by contradiction or indirect proof: reductio ad absurdum. mistake: non sequitur. starting place: handle. with corresponding changes: mutatis mutandis. counterexample: pathological exception. consequently: ipso facto. swallowing results: digesting proofs. therefore: ergo. has an easy-to-understand, but hard-to-find solution: obvious. has two easy-to-understand, but hard-to-find solutions: trivial. truth: tautology. empty: vacuous. drill problems: plug-and-chug work. criteria: rubric. example: substantive instantiation. similar structure: homomorphic. very similar structure: isomorphic. same area: isometric. arithmetic: number theory. count: enumerate. one: unity. generally/specifically: globally/locally. constant: invariant. bonus result: corollary. distance: metric measure. several: a plurality. function/argument: operator/operand. separation/joining: bifurcation/confluence. fourth power or quartic: biquadratic. random: stochastic. unique condition: a singularity. uniqueness: unicity. tends to zero: vanishes. tip-top point: apex. half-closed: half-open. concave: non-convex. rectangular prisms: parallelepipeds. perpendicular (adj.): orthogonal. perpendicular (n.): normal. Euclid: Descartes. Fermat: Wiles. path: trajectory. shift: rectilinear translation. similar: homologous. very similar: congruent. whopper-jawed: skew or oblique. change direction: perturb. join: concatenate. approximate to two or more places: accurate. high school geometry or plane geometry: geometry of the Euclidean plane under the Pythagorean metric. clever scheme: algorithm. initialize to zero: zeroize. * : splat. { : squiggle. decimal: denary. alphabetical order: lexical order. a divide-and-conquer method: an algorithm of logarithmic order. student ID numbers: witty passwords. that bitch secretary in the math dept: the witch of Agnesi numerology and number sophistry: descriptive statistics Special thanks to Peter Braxton who got me started writing this stuff and who contributed five of the items above. ________________________________________ mathematics [Top of page] [Bottom of page] [Index] [Send comment] In class I was asked to give the definition of these words. Here are the words and my answer. Polyhedron: She is the mother of all geometry. Polyhedron Properties: I put Land she bought with the mother and fame she achieved from becoming the mother of all geometry. Polyhedron Compounds: The structures she built on her properties. Polyhedron Operations: The Name of the business she opened in her compounds on her properties. Uniform Polyhedron: She manufactured her own clothing line from her businesses in her compounds on her properties. Miscellaneous Polyhedron: She diversified Dual Polyhedron: She later married and had twins. Tetrahedron: A life threatening sickness you will catch if you don't get a tetanus shot. Releaux Tetrahedron: The first person diagnosed with this sickness around 1610 in Scandinavia. Tetrahedron Compound 2: coughing Tetrahedron Compound 3: scratching Tetrahedron Compound 4: physiologic calcium imbalance Tetrahedron Compound 5: tonic spasm of muscles Tetrahedron Compound 6: deficient parathyroid secretion Tetrahedron Compound 10: loss of hearing, sight, hair and income followed by death all within a 15 second period. Comedy material written by Edmund Johnson Feb. 23rd 2003
A student was doing miserably on his oral final exam in General Toplogy (yes, this guy _really_ did give oral finals in topology). Exasperated by the student's abysmal performance up to that point, the professor asked the student "So, what _do_ you know about topology?" The student replied, "I know the definition of a topologist." The professor asked him to state the definition, expecting to get the old saw about someone who can't tell the difference between a coffee cup and a doughnut. Instead, the student replied: "A topologist is someone who can't tell the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground, but who can tell the difference between his ass and _two_ holes in the ground." The student passed