Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.


Two researchers walking together. The first says, "Wouldn't it be a good idea to offer the grad students formal training on research and teaching?" The other waves the concern away and says, "Nah, they'll learn by osmosis from their advisor."

“We didn’t get any of that when we were younger, and we turned out fine!”

Out of Proportion

Graph of "Chance of losing students" versus "Number of proportional signs in a derivation". The curve increases faster than linearly.

“Professor? Could you maybe use a few more equal signs?”

“Oh, the equality is easy. I’ll let you fill in the details after class.”

Easy Answers

A graph of "How hard a question is to answer" versus "How hard it seems". The curve is a "U" shape.

Academia is really good at finding the minimum of this function, though I would argue the easy-sounding questions are the ones we want to dig deeper on.


A fellow scientist peers over a huge hole to her physicist friend and shouts, "You're still digging?!" The caption: Fundamental physics.

Fundamental physics: Asking “why” more often than a child since time immemorial.


A professor stands in front of her blackboard and tells the class, "Welcome to Differential Equations, where we'll take a semester to download a lookup table to your brain!"

“Yes, I know the transfer is slow. We haven’t figured out a better way to do this yet.”

P.S. Hat tip to John Cook’s blog post that inspired this comic.


A scientist hands his proposal to a fellow colleague and says, "Here's my interdisciplinary project proposal." She looks at it and says, "Um, every scientist here has the word 'physicist' in it." He answers, "But they all have a different adjective in front. What else could I have done?"

“Wait, you wanted me to work with scientists who aren’t physicists?!”


A collection of dots representing people. Then, there's a line that cuts the space in half with the label, "Arbitrary Classifying Line". There are dots which land directly on the line, and there's a caption that reads, "Suddenly, things become harder."

Classification is easy until you run up against the arbitrariness of a definition.

Scaling Gains

A scientist tells a theorist and a businessperson about their latest work. "I just improved the algorithm's scaling from one polynomial to a slightly smaller one." The theorist replies, "Worth a paper." The businessperson shouts, "I'll give you a milli--wait. I'll get you a paper."

Actually, I just listened to a nice presentation by Jean-Gabriel Young who referred to a N2 algorithm as “bad”. So maybe my focus on theoretical computational complexity is just making me picky…


A density plot of "Stubbornness and persistence", in the shape of a normal distribution. To the far right are the outliers, where there's a label: Scientists and runners.

Who else is way out here?

The Weight of Expectations

Two friends are speaking. One friend asks, "Do you really want to carry that?" She's referring to a huge box labelled "Internal Pressure and Perfectionism" that her friend is carrying. He replies, "I...have no choice."

“I have to be the best.”


Pause. “I just have to be.”