Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.


A plot of messiness of a board versus time. There are three regimes. The first (the steepest) is for someone that rewrites equations constantly and erases the board with their fingers. The second (moderate steepness) is for someone who has trouble erasing well. And the third (the shallow slope) is for someone with very clean writing.

There are many other variations. See Board Work.


A plot of effort versus time. There are successive highs, followed by long lows, showing the necessity of recovery. Caption: Why vacations are necessary.

Vacations are on my mind as I get back into the PhD life.


Left panel (Caption: What we imagine): First researcher to the other one: "We did it! We achieved our research goal!" Right panel (Caption: What happens): First researcher to the other one: "Well, I can't think of anything else for us to look at, so we're done!"

This has not turned out to be a job for a person who likes clear objectives.


Left panel (Caption: What I want): "Time to spend a few hours on these figures." Right panel (Caption: What I suspect): "I'll just whip these up in ten minutes."

My problem tends to be the opposite. I spend way too long adjusting how things look.

Academic Vacation

A timeline of a vacation. About the first 70% involves resisting the temptation to "just check" work stuff. Then, a small portion is spent enjoying the vacation, while the last bit involves cursing that you have to go back.

The only solution is to double the vacation time!

Goes Like This

Left panel (What we say): A female mathematician is at the blackboard, facing the audience. "The proof goes like this." Right panel (What we mean): She says, "This is how I *wished* the proof went, if there weren't so many technical details that make the proof not go like this at all."

No wonder I can never follow the proofs that are in the PDFs of presentations!

(Thanks to Alex Kontorovich for inspiring this on Episode 1 of the 3b1b podcast.)

Slide Numbering

Left panel: A scientist is on stage with their slides projected. In the bottom-left corner, there's a label that says "0/3". The scientist: "Okay, let's start." A person in the audience, speaking to another audience member: "Oh good, this should be short." Right panel (two hours later): The slide showing says  2/3. An outraged audience member stands up and says, "How are you only at slide 2?! I've counted at least a hundred!" The scientist replies, "Oh, it's just that I'm using a log scale."

I’m really looking forward to trying this.


Left panel (Abstract art): A painting with a lot of lines at right angles. Two people look at it. Person 1: (Thinking: I don't get it.) "This is great!". Right panel (Abstract math): Two people look at a display of a function. Person 1: "This is just too weird." Person 2: "I never got this stuff."

People seem to be very happy to say they dislike mathematics compared to other cultural products.

Making the Cut

A paper in its original form. The first part is what actually is published, while the second part (the details that I want) are usually not.

Presentations can skip the technical details. Papers should not.


A reader tries to vault over a canyon separating Equation 1 from Equation 2.

Not to scale. Equation 1 and Equation 2 would not be seen on the page if done to scale.