Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Good Idea

A student and their supervisor are discussing. The student says, "Are you sure this is a good idea?" The supervisor answers, "Don't worry: if I thought it was great, I would've kept it for myself."

“Remember, all my ideas come from this probability distribution!”

Novelty Urge

A graph of "Urge to start a new project" versus "Feeling stuck". There's a linear relationship. Near the top-right, there's a label which says, "Why I have so many unfinished projects".

My other weakness: Open-ended projects.

Idea Generation

A graph of the proportion of idea quality. Almost all ideas are of low quality, and a small number are good. There's an arrow near the right of the curve that says, "Why I need to generate so many ideas".

Somehow, all the bad ideas come first.

Lines of Reasoning

Title is "Lines of Reasoning", and there are nine examples of lines. 1. Circular. 2. Meandering, with the line weaving around the page. 3. Discontinuous, with gaps in the line. 4. Inquisitive, with the line shaped as a looking glass. 5. Logical, with the line shaped like an implication arrow. 6. Confused, with the line shaped as a question mark. 7. Probabilistic, with the line shaped as a binary decision tree. 8. Panicky, with the line darting all over the place. 9. Deep, with the line going down.

Bonus lines: Backwards, positive, quick, and witty.

Self Standards

A graph of "Work" versus "Time". The first linear curve is labelled "Your standards", while the one underneath it is labelled "Quality". The difference in height between the two lines at any point in time is labelled, "There's always a gap".

Hat tip to Ira Glass.

Required Expertise

A graph of "Required expertise" versus "Location in a talk". A dotted horizontal line indicates the minimum expertise for most of the audience. The usual talk is a solid horizontal line above the dotted line. A good talk instead gradually goes up, peaks just above the dotted line for a short period of time, and then gradually descends.

I’d like to see the cumulative probability distribution of “disconnecting” from a talk as a function of location.


A large circle depicting the "Space of possible angles for your paper". There are X's scattered everywhere, and one lone dot within the space, with the label, "The only one that doesn't upset referees."

The fun question: How many of these angles did you try before hitting the dot?


A plot of "People you alienate" versus "Times you say, 'It's trivial'". It curves upwards in an exponential way.

I want to save the “T”-word for talking about solutions in mathematics.

Specialized Vocabulary

A single axis labeled, "Specialized Vocabulary", increase to the right. Starting far to the right and extending to the right is an arrow labeled, "Jargon for experts". Starting closer to the left and extending to right is an arrow labeled, "Jargon for everyone else".

If it’s a word that has a technical meaning that diverges from the usual meaning of the word, avoid it.

Degree of Knowledge

Two friends in a conversation. The first person is finishing talking and saying, "...I don't know." The other says, "But you have a physics degree! Shouldn't you know this?" The first person answers while shrugging, "My physics degree only asserts that *at some point* I knew this."

“What, did you expect me to remember that stuff forever?”