Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Cite

A researcher sitting at her desk, on her laptop. "Time to find the most outrageous and far-flung references to cite in my introduction."

This is a one-way process. I suspect there aren’t too many times researchers take out far-flung references.

Future Work

A paper which ends with, "...expanding the model and performing a detailed perturbative analysis may be an interesting direction for future work." Caption: When you have no idea of what to write (and have no intention of doing it).

The only thing that beats this is when I see a citation that references future work you’re planning to do, but it’s almost impossible to ever find it.

Set Path

Points A and B, with a very circuitous path connecting them, with the label, "I found a path and I'm sticking to it!" A more direct path has the label, "Potential for optimization."

This isn’t just an issue of unknown information. How many times have you switched methods after realizing there’s a faster way? We are set in our ways more than we would probably like to admit.

Random Bits

A scientist at his desk, with a Geiger counter and a nuclear source. Caption: I'm serious about my random bits.

“I’m not just going to call NumPy!”

Map

First panel: The supervisor gives their student a map and says, "Now you're ready to start your research. Here's the map." Second panel: The supervisor walks away, saying, "Let me know if you find anything!" Third panel: A close up of the map as the student opens it. It's Map 1 of 99, shows one spot where the supervisor has looked, and everywhere else is filled with question marks.

“What did you think this would be, painting by numbers?”

Dead Ends

A map from point A to B, showing various attempts to get there. Each path ends at an "X" before B. Caption: The low points of research.

And just before each “X”, you think that this finally might be the one…

First

A line graph showing the frequency of saying, "Oh no, you go first.", with it increasing to the right. On the left, there's "In person". On the right, there's "Virtual calls".

You either have everyone talking at once, or very long and awkward silences where nobody wants to speak in fear of talking over each other.

Conveyor Belt

Left panel (What we want): A person looks at their blackboard filled with scribbles and says, "Tell me the truth, math!" Right panel (What we get): A conveyor belt representing mathematics, with the assumptions as the input and the implications as the output.

In plain terms: Garbage in, garbage out.

Hopebeat

A graph showing the "hopebeat" during research. It begins at a baseline, spikes up when we think, "This is a breakthrough!", hits a low when we realize, "Okay, maybe not", bounces back up just above the baseline when we find a new topic to get excited about, spikes when we think, "This will change the world!", crashes down again when we realize it won't work, and then repeats.

Note: Time between peaks is irregular and can grow to arbitrary durations.

Judge

Two scientists discussing. The first says, "You shouldn't judge a paper by its title." The second asks, "That's what you do?" The first says, "Oh no, I'm way too busy!"

You’d think this would mean more catchy paper titles, but you’d be wrong.